A Blackburn Conservative councillor has resigned over the government’s refusal to condemn the siege of Gaza.

Cllr Altaf 'Tiger' Patel, who was the only Muslim Conservative councillor in the area, said he has become ‘appalled’ at the words used by the government officials, and said he could no longer back the Conservative Party.

Blackburn Conservative Association said Cllr Patel chose to resign after being notified he was being suspended by the party because his "views were not compatible" with the party.

Cllr Patel made the shock announcement to loud cheers in front of a huge pro-Palestine peace rally in Blackburn on the steps of the Town Hall, at around 2.30pm.

The Conservatives said he was suspended at 1.45pm, the Lancashire Telegraph had learned Cllr Patel was quitting on Saturday night, and the Audley & Queens Park representative had told the Lancashire Telegraph he was resigning on Sunday morning.

Speaking on the day he read out his resignation letter: “With a heavy heart and deep sense of moral duty, I write to tender my resignation from the Conservative Party, an organisation I have been a member of, for a significant part of my life.”

He added: “My deepest and most pressing concern pertains to the party’s unflinching endorsement of unconditional support of Israel, a stance which demonstrates a complete lack of nuance and sensitivity to the protracted suffering of the Palestinian people.

“The Conservative Party’s apparent disregard for the realities on the ground and its implicit support of policies that amount to collective punishment, is nothing short of a grave and horrifying humanitarian crisis that I can no longer ignore. It bears a striking resemblance to a situation that I could be aptly described as genocide.

“The Conservative Party, which I once thought of to be a beacon of righteousness has instead chosen a path of moral bankruptcy on the issue.”

A local Conservative Party spokesperson said: "Cllr Tiger Altaf Patel was suspended by the Blackburn Conservative Association at 13.45 this afternoon (Sunday 15 October), on the grounds that his views were not compatible with the views of the Government or being a member of the Conservative Party.

"Unfortunately Cllr Patel on hearing about his suspension, then took the decision to resign rather than work with us through the due process of the party.

"We will be making no further comment, and we consider the matter closed."

Lancashire Telegraph:

He was hugged by people as he spoke. Protestors also spoke out against the notable decision of the majority of the Labour Party councillors to stay away from the demonstration barring Cllr Akhtar, Cllr Khonat and Cllr Jan Virmani who was assisting with crowd control.

More than a thousand people gathered outside the town hall to demand the UK condemns the actions of Israel and to called for freedom for the people of Palestine.

Cllr Patel, who was elected in the Audley and Queen's Park Ward in 2021, said he would remain as an independent councillor.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The protest attracted more than a thousand people to Blackburn town centre

Lancashire Telegraph:

Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave were struggling to find food, water and safety ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive.

Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of US warships in the region, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border. The Gaza health ministry said 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting erupted, more than in the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted over six weeks.