Baroness Warsi: was Gaza the only motive for resignation?

Aug 5, 2014

Warsi steps down in protest at the government's 'morally indefensible' policy in the Middle East

Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Baroness Warsi, a senior Foreign Office minister, has resigned in protest at the Government's policy on Gaza, describing it as "morally indefensible".

She announced her departure on Twitter today and posted her resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron in full. 

Warsi, the first Muslim to sit in the Cabinet, warns that the Government's policy in relation to the Middle East peace process was not in Britain's national interest and will have a "long-term detrimental impact" on its reputation at home and abroad.

"I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported," she writes. "By staying in government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that."

Her resignation highlights concerns that Cameron has failed properly to condemn Israel's actions in Gaza, leaving the PM with a "political headache as he rejoins his family on holiday in Portugal", says The Times.

Today a Downing Street spokesman said Cameron was grateful for the "excellent" work Warsi had done as a minister and in opposition. "Our policy has always been consistently clear – the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we've urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire," they added.

In The Spectator, Isabel Hardman says Warsi "gives credence" to Labour leader Ed Miliband who has argued that the Prime Minister is not being sufficiently robust in his dealings with Israel. In response the Tories accused Labour of playing politics and even undermining Britain's efforts to secure peace. "It is one thing to say that of an opposition leader, but if one of your Conservative colleagues makes the same accusation... it is quite a different matter," says Hardman.

Aside from the Gaza debate, several commentators, such as The Guardian's Mark Tran, note that Warsi was "an uncomfortable fit with Tory ranks".

She has made forthright comments about immigration and religion. She compared banning the burka to outlawing the miniskirt and "made waves" in March when she held up a sign suggesting there needed to be an end to the "Eton mess" at the heart of Downing Street.

The Daily Telegraph's Dan Hodges thinks Warsi's resignation has more to do with a 2012 Cabinet reshuffle that it does with Gaza. Warsi was made Conservative Party co-chairman following the 2010 general election, but was subsequently moved to the post of Minister of State at the Foreign Office and Minister for Faith and Communities in 2012.

Hodges, who describes Warsi as an "ineffective" party chair, and an "unpopular" member of the Government, says: "It's been an open secret in Westminster that Warsi has been angered since her demotion from Tory party chair."

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