UK

Labour sets seal on manifesto with pledge to recognise Palestinian statehood

Shadow ministers, Labour members and union representatives left the Clause V meeting on Friday having finalised the election manifesto.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in north-west London, while on the General Election campaign trail
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in north-west London, while on the General Election campaign trail (James Manning/PA)

Recognition of Palestinian statehood as part of any Middle East peace process is a Labour manifesto pledge, Sir Keir Starmer confirmed as party figures signed off on the final policy document.

The Labour leader suggested that such a move should not be blocked by a neighbouring country, saying it was an “inalienable right” of Palestinians and not in “the gift of Israel”.

It came as shadow ministers, union representatives, MPs and members arrived on Friday at the party’s secretive Clause V meeting, where they set the seal on Labour’s election manifesto in the afternoon.

During a campaign visit before heading to the closed-doors gathering, Sir Keir said: “That needs to be part of the process, it’s very important we have a viable Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel.”

Sir Keir Starmer said it was ‘very important we have a viable Palestinian state’
Sir Keir Starmer said it was ‘very important we have a viable Palestinian state’ (James Manning/PA)

Asked whether this will be in the manifesto, he told the BBC: “It will be.”

The move comes after the party faced setbacks in the local elections in some previously safe areas, particularly those with large Muslim populations, where candidates may have suffered as a result of Sir Keir’s stance on the Gaza war.

It is likely to anger the Israeli government, which reacted with fury when Ireland, Spain and Norway moved to recognise Palestinian statehood last month.

The finer points of Labour’s document have been kept tightly under wraps after 2017’s draft manifesto was leaked, with attendees of the party’s Clause V meeting only told its central London location this morning.

The gathering takes its name from the fifth clause of the party rulebook, which seeks to ensure members, affiliated organisations and elected representatives are all able to take part in policy formulation.

Party sources described the meeting as “positive” and said the manifesto had been waived through by attendees, with a spokesperson saying: “Today’s meeting has endorsed Labour’s manifesto.

“On July 4, the British people will have the chance to vote for change – to stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country.”

However, it is understood the Unite union refused to back the manifesto after accusing Labour of weakening its package of workers’ rights.

Sources told the PA news agency that the party stance on issues like employment protection and oil and gas meant the union could not endorse the final version.

It comes after Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, called for Labour to commit to an outright ban on practices like fire-and-rehire. Ms Graham had been due to speak to reporters after the meeting, but cancelled her appearance.

Meanwhile, left-wing campaign group Momentum said it was “deeply disappointed” that the party has not promised to introduce free school meals or scrap the two-child benefit cap.

“We need to kick out not just the Tories, but Tory policies too,” a spokesperson said.

“Standing alongside child poverty campaigners and friends across the labour movement, we will continue to push for these policies, which represent the essence of real Labour values.”

The manifesto will be based on the party’s five missions for government announced last year on the economy, the NHS, energy, education and planning reform.

Party pledges include the creation of GB Energy, a publicly owned green power company, 40,000 more NHS appointments a week and the recruitment of 6,500 new teachers to plug gaps in the workforce.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported Sir Keir’s party will commit to measures cracking down on companies that refuse to comply with its plans for training British workers.

The government would be able to block individual firms from sponsoring work visas if it believed the employer was not doing enough to carry out domestic training in key sectors such as care and construction under the reported plans.

The manifesto is expected to be officially launched on June 13 ahead of the General Election on July 4.