British MP says he avoids public transport after Gaza war stance threats

Wes Streeting admits some of his constituents feel let down by the party's soft stance on Israel

Wes Streeting says he does not travel on public transport alone after receiving death threats over his stance on Gaza. PA
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The UK's shadow health minister Wes Streeting has revealed that he does not take public transport alone owing to threats he received for Labour's stance on Gaza.

The Labour MP standing in Ilford North told UK media he had received a death threat and threats of violence since the war began, forcing him to change his “routine”.

“It means I don't travel at the moment on public transport alone,” Mr Streeting told The Mail on Sunday.

“It's really upset me, not much the fear for my safety, but for the last nine years I have really prided myself on the fact people see me on the Central Line into work; that they can walk up to me in Tesco and have a chat.”

The government released a $31 million security package for MPs facing threats to their safety in February, after it emerged that some MPs had received threats over their stance on the Israel-Gaza war.

The murder of fellow Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 by a man holding far-right views has left British MPs fearful for their lives on divisive issues. Mr Streeting said he had refused to change his approach until now, even after Ms Cox's murder.

He added that while it was normal for there to be disagreement over the UK's position on the war, this should not cross over into intimidation and violence. “I don't mind scrutiny. I don't mind disagreement. That's democracy,” said Mr Streeting said.

“But no one should be subjected to threats and intimidation. I've had a death threat since the war in Gaza broke out and I've had threats of violence.”

He described himself as a critic of Israel who had long supported the Palestinian state. “The irony is I've been highly critical of Israel. I have been a long-standing advocate for an independent Palestinian state.

“Where I draw the line is I don't think that to be pro-Palestinian is to excuse or justify in any way the barbarity of October 7.”

Mr Streeting, who has promised to pay for healthcare reforms by abolishing non-domicile status, is being challenged in his Ilford North constituency by independent candidate Leanne Mohamad, who has Palestinian heritage and is putting the war in Gaza at the heart of her campaign.

He acknowledged that Labour's stance on the Israel-Gaza war would deter some constituents from voting for him, but said that the need for a change from 14 years of Conservative rule would compel more people to vote for Labour.

“There will be some people in my constituency who don't feel we've been strong enough on Gaza and may not vote for me. But I think there are many more who are voting Labour because they want to bring an end to the chaos,” he said.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has faced pressure from within the party to take a tougher line on Israel's continuing military operations and faced a rebellion from dozens of his own MPs late last year on the issue.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 12:48 PM