Tory MP sacked from Government job for urging PM to back Gaza ceasefire

Paul Bristow was dismissed on Monday (Richard Townshend/PA) (PA Media)
Paul Bristow was dismissed on Monday (Richard Townshend/PA) (PA Media)

Tory MP Paul Bristow has been sacked from his Government job after breaking ranks to publicly urge Rishi Sunak to push for a “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza.

The ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology had written to the Prime Minister saying it would save lives.

He has said that Palestinian civilians are facing a “collective punishment” as a result of Israel’s siege and airstrikes campaign in the wake of Hamas’s bloodshed.

Downing Street said that the MP for Peterborough has been asked to leave his job as a parliamentary private secretary for breaking rank.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Paul Bristow has been asked to leave his post in Government following comments that were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility.”

Mr Bristow told the BBC he completely understood the Prime Minister’s decision, and said he regretted having to leave a job he enjoyed.

He added: “But I can now talk openly about an issue so many of my constituents care deeply about.

“I believe I can do this better from the backbenches rather than as part of the Government payroll.”

Much has been made of the splits in Labour over Sir Keir Starmer’s position on the conflict between Israel and Gaza but the sacking is evidence of Tory divisions too.

Mr Bristow’s letter, dated Thursday, appears to have been deleted from his website but remains on Facebook.

He wrote that he is “deeply briefed by the heart-breaking and devastating humanitarian crisis” unfolding in Gaza, having spoken with constituents and meeting with the Peterborough Joint Mosques Council.

The MP said he welcomed Mr Sunak calling for what he has termed “specific pauses” in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, home to more than two million people.

But Mr Bristow added: “A permanent ceasefire would save lives and allow for a continued column of humanitarian aid (to) reach the people who need it the most.

“The brutal Hamas attacks against innocent civilians are unforgivable.

“Hostages need to be released.

“It is challenging to understand how the present strategy of bombing Gaza will lead to the release of hostages.”

He accompanied an image of the letter on social media saying that Palestinians should not “suffer collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas” – action which could be deemed a war crime.