Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet minister on Tuesday announced her resignation from the government over Britain’s policy on Gaza.
Pakistani-origin Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi posted a message on Twitter stating, “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”
In her resignation letter, she writes, “My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East peace progress generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.”
According to the Telegraph, Warsi had taken the position of Senior Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Minister for Faith and Communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
She was previously Chairman of the Conservative Party and Minister without Portfolio, having joined the Cabinet in 2010.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the news was “very sad” and hoped she return “as soon as possible” to the government.
Nearly four weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas has claimed the lives of 1,900 Palestinians — most of them civilians. The war has also left 67 Israelis dead, all but three of them soldiers.
The rise of the Yorkshire born Briton Sayeeda Warsi to become the first Muslim woman named in a British cabinet gave Pakistan something to cheer about when she was appointed shortly after the failed Times Square bombing orchestrated by Faisal Shahzad in 2010.
Born into a modest family which migrated from Gujar Khan to Britain in the 1960s, Warsi has been involved in politics since her college days.
Warsi runs five vocational training centres for orphaned girls in villages near Gujar Khan through a women’s charity. Prime Minister David Cameron visited Gujar Khan with her in 2008.
Warsi’s letter to the PM
Dear Prime Minister
For some weeks in meetings and discussions, I have been open and honest about my views on the conflict in Gaza and our response to it.
My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East peace progress generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.
Particularly as the minister with responsibility for the United Nations.The International Criminal Court and Human Rights I believe our approach to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice. In many ways the absence of the experience and expertise of colleagues like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve has over the last few weeks become very apparent.
The decision has not been easy. It has been a privilege to serve for 3 years in your Shadow Cabinet and over 4 years in your Cabinet. Introducing you in Blackpool in 2005 as you made your bid for leadership I had the pleasure of being there at the start of the journey and it would have been rewarding to have been there till the end.
The last decade has given me the opportunity to work with some of the best in the Conservative Party and indeed in Government. William Hague was probably one of the finest Foreign Secretaries this country has seen and has been inspirational. He dismantled foreign policy making by sofa government and restored decision making and dignity to the Foreign Office. THere is however great unease across the Foreign Office, amongst both Ministers and senior officials, in the way recent decisions are made.
Eric Pickles has supported me tirelessly in our work on combating hate crime, challenging anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia and the pioneering work of celebrating faith in the public sphere. This new found confidence in Government has allowed me to take the very public International lead on religious freedom, specifically on the ever growing crisis of the persecution of Christians. However, early evidence from the Home Office and others shows that the fallout of the current conflict and the potential for the crisis in Gaza and our response to it becoming a basis for radicalisation could have consequences for us for years to come.
From both Eric and William I learnt the art of reconciling passion and idealism with pragmatism and realism, but 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. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.
It is therefore with regret that I am writing to resign.
You will continue to have my personal support as leader of the Conservative Party as you continue to ensure that our Party evolves to meet the challenges we face in Britain today and ensure that the Party is relevant and responsive to all communities that make up today’s Britain.