Keir Starmer has defended the Labour Party’s record on Palestine on a visit to West Berkshire today – after the party faced criticism over the issue in Slough.

Seven councillors quit the party in Slough earlier this month – and its candidate and most recent MP was heckled while canvassing for abstaining on a vote for an immediate ceasefire in November.

But in an interview with the Reading Chronicle and Slough Observer during a visit to Woolhampton, Mr Starmer said that Labour had backed an immediate ceasefire ‘for many months now.’ He said: “We've had tens of thousands of people killed, too many women and children in particular, so we need this ceasefire – we’ve been calling for this now for months.”

He said he believed a ceasefire would be ‘a foot in the door for the only political solution which is a two state solution involving the recognition of a viable Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel.’

Mr Starmer added: “That's the policy of an incoming Labour government. If we get over the line we can start on that work on 5 July.

“Where people vote Labour particularly on important issues like Gaza where we can make a real difference then they will be returning a Labour candidate who will sit on the government benches and be able to do something about it.

“Returning someone who will only be able to sit on the opposition benches shouting across the aisle that’s not going to fix and solve the situation in Gaza.”

Mr Starmer made his comments on a visit to the Reading West and Mid Berkshire constituency on Tuesday June 18. They came as Independent Network candidate Azhar Chohan has risen as a potential challenger to Labour’s majority in Slough.

He says some 400 people attended his campaign launch last month, while Mr Dhesi has been moved to emphasise how he has ‘called out the violence and occupation faced by Palestinians.’

Mr Chohan told the Chronicle that Gaza is an important issue to people in Slough, and criticised Labour for refusing to accuse Israel of carrying out a genocide against Palestinians.

He said: “Palestine remains a core issue for the electorate in Slough and I believe that will be at the forefront for most of the electorate in Slough when they make their decision on 4 July.

“I don’t think they will forgive either the Labour or the Conservative Party for their stance.”

He added: “Our government – whether it’s past or the new government coming in if it’s Labour- they’re complicit. Both major parties are complicit in what’s going on.

“They need to say we’re not going to supply arms because it’s part of our law where we don’t supply arms to conflict zones where innocent bystanders could get killed.

“Labour’s party leader will not say there’s a genocide going on in Gaza. They need to acknowledge that there is a genocide.”