Labour face Rochdale byelection backlash after party withdraws support for candidate – UK politics live

Party criticised for delay in acting over comments in which Azhar Ali suggested Israel had allowed 7 October attack to happen

Labour have opted not to send anybody out on the media round this morning to defend their position on Azhar Ali.

Labour sources said that campaigners in Rochdale were told to stop leafleting and social media activity on Ali’s behalf at 5.30pm yesterday afternoon – an instruction that came from party HQ.

If you want a fair and transparent system then it has to deal with people consistently, and I’m aware from discussions with some of the MPs within the party – who might be described as left-leaning – that they feel that when it comes to disciplinary action taken against them then things move rather slowly, but if you’re in the right faction of the party, as it were, then things are dealt with either more leniently or more swiftly.

Now that’s the perception, I can’t quantify it, but I do think it’s something that leadership should be concerned to, in a away, dilute, or if it is in fact the case, they need to give reassurance to members of the voting public and to their members that people will be treated fairly.

Labour has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali, its candidate for this month’s Rochdale byelection, in the wake of controversial comments he made about the 7 October attacks on Israel. In line with electoral law, Labour cannot replace Ali with another candidate because the deadline passed on 2 February. He will stand as a Labour candidate on the ballot paper, but if elected he will not hold the party whip and will sit as an independent MP.

Rishi Sunak has said he is “absolutely committed” to his Rwanda policy during a one-hour Q&A session on GB News in which he insisted he understands the country’s frustrations after 14 years of Conservative-led government. The prime minister told voters that the Rwanda deportations scheme was necessary as a “deterrent” to channel crossings.

Sunak’s government is also announcing a series of proposed changes to the planning system on Tuesday to encourage developers to build more homes. It is a mover the Conservatives claim is designed to boost development in urban areas even while housebuilding slumps nationally.

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