Baroness Warsi, the senior Foreign Office minister, has resigned from the government in protest at its policy on Gaza, describing it as “morally indefensible”.
Warsi announced her departure on Twitter yesterday, saying: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on Gaza.”
In her resignation letter, Warsi said the government's “approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically”.
She said the UK's stance was “not consistent with the rule of law and our long support for international justice”, adding: “The British government can only play a constructive role in solving the Middle East crisis if it is an honest broker and at the moment I do not think it is.”
The chancellor, George Osborne, hit back immediately, saying her decision was unnecessary and insisting that ministers were committed to working to secure peace in the region.
“This a disappointing and frankly unnecessary decision,” he said. “The British government is working with others in the world to bring peace to Gaza and we do now have a tentative ceasefire which we all hope will hold.”
But Labour leader Ed Miliband said Warsi had acted with “principle and integrity” and urged Mr Cameron to re-think his position.
“I hope that David Cameron will reflect on what she says in her resignation letter and change his approach,” he told BBC News. “He needs to break his silence and say that Israel's actions have been unjustified and indefensible. He needs to show that he can be even-handed and, without fear or favour, argue for the long-term solution that we need to this tragic conflict.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Warsi said: “Our position not to recognise Palestinian statehood at the UN in November 2012 placed us on the wrong side of history and is something I deeply regret not speaking out against at the time.”