6 Aug 2014

Hugo Swire ‘discussed quitting’ over Gaza

How big a problem does David Cameron have on Gaza? Sayeeda Warsi hinted at the scale of it in her resignation letter when she said there was “great unease across the Foreign Office, among both ministers and senior officials, in the way recent decisions have been made”.

In her interview with Channel 4 News on Tuesday, she went further, revealing that one minister had discussed resigning during a late night conversation, and an MP was “in tears about material that they had seen and the fact they felt we weren’t doing anything about it”.

Now, this programme has been told by senior Conservatives that the minister in question is Hugo Swire. This is significant because he’s a Foreign Office minister – adding to the sense that Middle East policy is being driven by Number Ten, with the people in the know at the relevant department unhappy passengers.

Swire told us today: “I want to be very clear – I have absolutely no intention of resigning whatsoever.”

Exclusive: ‘Why I quit over Gaza’ – Baroness Warsi

The problem for Cameron is that while senior Tories have tried to isolate Warsi by calling her all sorts of names (“egomaniac”, “hypocrite” “nonentity” to name but a few), it looks as if her views have influential support.

Several other Foreign Office ministers are said to be uneasy that the government hasn’t taken a tougher stance against Israel, and, according to Warsi, officials are in seditious mood too.

Many Conservatives believe the continuing ceasefire in Gaza, and the accompanying peace talks, have bought the prime minister a reprieve from his restive parliamentary party.

But the underlying challenges facing Gazans on a daily basis haven’t gone away. MPs on the Commons International Development Committee are now urging the government to push Israel to lift restrictions on the movements of Gazans.

This was one of the reasons behind the scale of civilian casualties. Israel kept on repeating the line that it had warned the people of Gaza to leave their homes before the bombing began, but with heavy restrictions on the crossings out of the region, and UN schools being used as shelters coming under fire, it was nigh-on impossible for ordinary Gazans to find anywhere to go.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats continue to up the ante with calls for an immediate arms embargo. But their ardent determination to block arms sales to Israel has something of the Johnny-come-lately about it.

I understand that at a major government meeting about Gaza and the Middle East in the last few weeks, Danny Alexander was the only Lib Dem attending. And he didn’t say a word.

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8 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Why didn’t you ask Boris “Hermann Goering” Johnson what he thought of Warsi doing a bunk?

    It could have got interesting watching him once again disappear up his own anal canal.

    As for Warsi – tory public schoolboys don’t like this kind of thing. It smacks too much of honesty. Which means she’s finished.

    1. dz alexander says:

      I personally prefer the bikes, but Boris has distanced himself from the present occupant of the spot he covets —

      // I can’t for the life of me see how this can be a sensible strategy. I think it is disproportionate, I think it is ugly and it is tragic and I don’t think it will do Israel any good in the long run. //

  2. Martin says:

    Hello cathy,
    What ‘Jewish lobby’ are you referring to? Not the one taking over the world I hope. If it is, we’re not making a very good job of it. I used to think C4 news was the broadsheet of TV news. But after your coverage of the gaza conflict, I will need to think again,

    Best wishes,


    1. Tzipporah K says:

      How terribly predictable of you to start waving the “You’re an antisemite!” flag as soon as someone dares to criticise the wholesale murder of civilians.

      Occupied Palestine is a middoh keneged middoh, something that Jewish people do, that causes us to be hated.

      The yeshas (settlers) and their military backup are committing acts of terrorism.

      Bleating “Hamas do it too!” is trite on two levels.
      1. They’re Dovid against Goliath. They do not have billions of dollars and the IDF on their side.
      2. What would you do if your land was stolen to pay for a crime you didn’t commit (the Shoah), and then your people were oppressed at every turn, attacked in the cruellest way possible, and penned into what amounts to a world-sanctioned ghetto? Would you not lash out if your children had no nationality, no country?

      Whose land do we give the Palestinians? Of the 11 million slaughtered in the death camps, 6m were Jewish. Where are the reparations for the descendants of other ethnic and religious groups who were all but wiped out? It is a shanda (shame) that we are using an event with almost no remaining survivors, terrible as it was, to essentially do the same to others. Genocide is genocide, no matter which uniform the stormtroopers wear.

      One final note, if your misguided anger at the truth is coming from a place of religion, then presumably you know that even if we were supposed to annexe an Eretz Yisroel (I believe it was meant to be a spiritual nation, not a physical one), it is specifically commanded that we are not to do so until Moshiach returns, and the Temple is rebuilt.

      If you’re not religious, then how can you justify your defence of apartheid and violence, based solely on an idea in the Torah?

      You cannot have it both ways.

  3. Esther says:

    It’s odd that none of Channel 4’s journalists in Gaza managed to report or broadcast film of what independent correspondents from elsewhere saw and recorded of Hamas’ lethal and reckless activities. However, Cathy, using the following links you can see with your own eyes, Hamas rockets shot from near hospital, hotels, homes and schools:

    From France24 yesterday: http://www.france24.com/en/20140805-exclusive-video-hamas-rocket-launching-pad-near-gaza-homes-un-building/

    From India NDTV: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/ndtv-exclusive-how-hamas-assembles-and-fires-rockets-571033

    From Finnish Helsingin Sanomat (Turn on captions):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmQpiUvS2PQ

    12 residential shootings from the air:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUrDAEgisXM

    How could Paul Mason, who I have always revered from his Newsnight days, have missed all of this?

    1. hasy says:

      if you have been displaced from your homes and land and corralled into a strip of land/ prison since 1948, you would be trying your very best to hit your oppressor as hard as possible. These rockets are pathetic and show the level of weaponry being supplied/available to the oppressed. The Palestinians will only get back their legit rights when they can match the firepower of Israel. Nobody gives you your homes and land back ever! there is no such example in history. You have to fight back for your land and dignity inch by inch. The Allies had to drop nuclear weapons on their enemies to get justice in 1945. Palestinians/arabs will have to learn this from history. There are no free meals or free cheques.

  4. George Shas says:

    Baroness Warsi also told Kathy Newman Osborne was ‘a friend of Israel’ which is actually quite literal. The Friends of Israel tapped up Osborne and Cameron, as they did Blair and Brown.
    They have an insidious relationship with top British politicians. Congratulations Baroness Warsi for pointing out that the British establishment, with the BBC out in front, are irretrievably lackeys of Israel.

  5. NB Kassim says:

    Dear Ms Newman

    Thank you MP Margot James, Baroness Warsi, Hugo Swire for standing up and telling the British Government that “The Emperor Has No Clothes On.”

    What is happening in Palestine and Israel has its parallel in the Danish fairytale, “The Emperor New Clothes”. For the past 100 years Americans, British and other Europeans have wiilingly participated in the collective ignorance of an obvious fact that what is happening in Palestine cannot be defended under any moral code as stated by Gandhi in 1938.

    Other great humanist figures like Einstein and Nelson Mandela have tried to warn the world about the danger of what was and still happening in Palestine and Israel.

    What has the Americans, Britain and other Europeans countries been breeding in Palestine for the past hundred 100 years? Are you going to continue with the same political strategy without ethical considerations of the impact on individual and family lives in Palestine and Israel. Can the world enjoy our freedom when this is not happening in Palestine and Israel.

    The Americans, British and other Europeans have to stop giving lip service to the idea of peace and take concrete actions.

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