The extent of the Labour backbench unrest over Tony Blair's handling of the Middle East crisis is laid bare for the first time today in a petition calling for an immediate ceasefire.
More than 110 Labour MPs, including Paul Clark, the parliamentary private secretary to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, have signed the petition. That would be enough to wipe out Mr Blair's Commons majority. Mr Blair will not face the immediate threat of a vote because the Commons has risen for the summer recess, but it shows that he has lost the support of almost a third of the Parliamentary Labour Party on the issue.
The petition has been organised by Crisis Action, a campaign organisation.
The signatories included Martin Salter, the MP for Reading West, a member of the Parliamentary committee, a group of senior MPs who meet the Prime Minister every week. Most Liberal Democrat MPs, including Sir Menzies Campbell, said they would sign the petition, along with 10 Tory MPs.
Cabinet ministers are ordered not to sign petitions to avoid splits in the Government. "We contacted every cabinet minister and none of them said they supported Mr Blair's position, which is pretty surprising," said Brendan Cox, director of Crisis Action. He said the petition, available at www.ceasefiretoday.org, had been signed by more than 35,000.
* A new political party launched by the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq plans to contest every by-election and field up to 70 candidates at the next general election. Reg Keys, 54, who stood against Tony Blair last year, and launched Spectre, said members would meet over the next two weeks to establish its strategy.
Now get the T-shirt
The Independent is offering readers the opportunity to own their own limited edition Katherine Hamnett "Unconditional Ceasefire Now" T-shirt for the special, discounted price of £3. Present this coupon at the Stop the War Coalition stalls at the beginning of today's march at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park to collect the shirt. Alternatively, you can write to STWC, 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP. An additional charge of £2 will be made for postage and packing.Reuse content