Two killed in Ukrainian strike on Donetsk region, Russian-backed official says

Two killed in Ukrainian strike on Donetsk region, Russian-backed official says
Two killed in Ukrainian strike on Donetsk region, Russian-backed official says

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: Labour leader Keir Starmer faced heckles of “free Palestine” as independent candidates took a number of seats from his party during the UK general election over anger at its stance on Gaza.

In a major upset, shadow minister Jonathan Ashworth, a key Starmer ally, was defeated in the formerly safe seat of Leicester South.

The shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, survived by just 528 votes, having previously commanded a majority of more than 9,000, after a strong campaign by Leanne Mohamed, the granddaughter of Palestinian refugees.

In areas with a Muslim population of over 10 percent, the party’s vote dropped by an average of 11 points, despite Labour winning a significant majority of seats nationwide ahead of forming the next UK government.

Though enjoying a comfortable win, Starmer was heckled at his victory speech after independent candidate Andrew Feinsten won 7,312 votes.

Five independent candidates running on pro-Gaza tickets were returned as MPs, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The party also lost Leicester East to the Conservatives after an independent — vocal pro-Palestine supporter and former Labour MP Claudia Webbe — split the Labour vote.

In Leicester South, Shockat Adam unseated Ashworth, who previously had a 22,000 majority and had held the seat for 13 years. Adam announced “this is for Gaza” during his victory speech, winning by 979 votes.

Labour also lost seats in Dewsbury and Batley to independent Iqbal Mohamed by nearly 7,000 votes, Blackburn to Adnan Hussain by 132 votes, and Birmingham Perry Bar, where Khalid Mahmoud was defeated by independent candidate Ayoub Khan by 507 votes.

A number of senior Labour MPs only narrowly retained their seats in the face of independents, including Shabana Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood, who saw her majority slashed from 32,000 to 3,421.

Fellow Birmingham MP Jess Phillips saw her majority reduced from 13,141 to 693 despite having resigned from a shadow ministerial role in order to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this year.

In Birmingham Hodge Hill, former minister Liam Byrne retained his seat by just over 1,500 votes.

In the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Stepney, the shadow small business minister, Rushnara Ali, saw her majority of more than 31,000 go down to 1,689.

In north London, Corbyn, a long-time champion of the Palestinian cause, won his Islington North seat as an independent, beating his Labour opponent by more than 7,000 votes.

However, Labour claimed a major pro-Palestine scalp in Rochdale, unseating former MP George Galloway, who took the seat from Labour in a by-election earlier this year.

The party has struggled with its position on Gaza since Israel launched its invasion of the enclave last October.

It faced criticism from its own members for initially backing the Israeli government, and since then has backed a humanitarian ceasefire.

In the party’s manifesto, it said it would move to recognize a Palestinian state if elected, but there have since been suggestions that the move could be shelved over fears of jeopardizing Labour’s relationship with the US government.

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