UK Labour MPs Withdraw From Anti-NATO Statement on Ukraine Crisis

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
February 25, 2022Updated: February 25, 2022

Eleven lawmakers from Britain’s main opposition Labour Party have withdrawn their names from a statement criticising NATO over the Ukraine crisis.

The statement was issued on Feb. 18 by the “Stop The War Coalition,” a leftwing organisation that was initially launched to oppose U.S. military action in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

In the statement, the group accused the British government of “aggressive posturing” and said NATO “should call a halt to its eastward expansion.”

It said it rejects the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance, as it said NATO’s “record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the U.S.-British attack on Iraq, clearly proves otherwise.”

The group also criticised the British government for sending arms to Ukraine and deploying further troops to NATO allies in Eastern Europe, saying such moves “serve no purpose other than inflaming tensions and indicating disdain for Russian concerns.”

The statement was signed by Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery, Beth Winter, Zarah Sultana, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Apsana Begum, Mick Whitley, Tahir Ali, and Ian Mearns.

But under pressure from the Labour leadership under Sir Keir Starmer, all 11 MPs have since withdrawn their names.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The small number of Labour MPs that signed the Stop The War statement have all now withdrawn their names. This shows Labour is under new management.

“With Keir Starmer’s leadership there will never be any confusion about whose side Labour is on—Britain, NATO, freedom, and democracy—and every Labour MP now understands that.”

However, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a far left politician, has not removed his name from the statement.

Epoch Times Photo
(L-R) Labour MP Richard Burgon and former leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn attend a protest rally organised by the Stop The War Coalition calling on the UK government to recognise the war in Afghanistan as a “catastrophe,” at Parliament Square, in London, on Aug. 18, 2021. (Dan Kitwood /Getty Images)

Corbyn currently sits as an independent MP, as his party whip was removed in October 2020 after he dismissed the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party as “dramatically overstated.”

Corbyn has been a key member of the Stop The War Coalition and served as its chair from 2011 to 2015.

But his successor Starmer has been critical of the organisation.

Earlier this month, the Labour leader wrote in the Guardian that Stop The War activists were not “benign voices for peace.”

“At best they are naive, at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies. There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity and—crucially—our practical assistance now more than ever,” he said.

PA Media contributed to this report.