‘Asking specific question!’ Yvette Cooper repeatedly dodges Kuenssberg grilling

Yvette Cooper repeatedly dodges question from Laura Kuenssberg

Yvette Cooper repeatedly dodged questions from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on whether Labour frontbenchers who back a Gaza ceasefire in a potential vote next week will be sacked.

The shadow home secretary was asked three times if Sir Keir Starmer would fire members of his shadow cabinet if they support an amendment to the King’s Speech which could be put to a vote in the Commons.

Both the SNP and Labour backbenchers have tabled amendments seeking an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

But Ms Cooper refused to answer the question as she insisted the amendments may not be chosen by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Asked if Labour frontbenchers who vote for a ceasefire would be sacked, Ms Cooper told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “Just in terms of what the procedures are I think there are around 15 amendments already that have been put down, there may be more, and we don’t yet know which amendments the Speaker will select or what the next steps will be.

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“There’s always then a process in which the Labour Party and the whips set out the response so I’m not going to pre-empt that.”

Host Kuenssberg pressed: “But there’s likely to be a vote on a ceasefire in the Middle East. Will Labour frontbenchers be sacked if they vote for a ceasefire?”

Continuing to avoid the question, Ms Cooper replied: “Let me address the broader issue because I can’t pre-empt the processes around the Speaker selecting amendments and the way in which the party responds to amendments that have been set out.

“There is a wider issue here which is the devastating things happening in the Middle East at the moment and the real deep concern and distress there is.

“We have seen 4,000 Palestinian children killed in Gaza, hostages are still being held, there’s a humanitarian crisis at the moment. I think everyone wants to see an end to the violence and proper measures to address the humanitarian crisis.”

Asking a third time, Kuenssberg said: “We’ve talked about that at great length but I’m asking you a specific question.

“If there is a vote on a ceasefire in the House of Commons this week will Keir Starmer sack frontbenchers who vote for a ceasefire, which is different to his own position.”

The Labour politician repeated that she “can’t pre-empt the process that we will go through with the selection of amendments that hasn’t yet taken place by the Speaker”.

Kuenssberg put it to her that it was a “very elegant way of avoiding the question”.

Ms Cooper replied: “I’m trying to address the wider issue because I can’t answer the process question but what I can do is talk about the wider issue.”

It comes as the Labour leader is battling to maintain discipline within his party over his backing for a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war rather than a permanent ceasefire. At least 16 shadow ministers have either demanded a ceasefire or shared others’ calls on social media, but they have not been dismissed.

The King’s Speech debate comes to an end on November 15. It is at this point that votes usually take place.

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