Former East Lancashire European MP Sajjad Karim has warned both the Labour and Conservative parties need to reconnect with British Muslim voters.

The call comes after a long string of resignations by Labour councillors over the party's stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, which saw the party lose seats in East Lancashire to independents, while the Conservatives have long had issues of Islamophobia within the party.

In Blackburn Labour saw its majority shrink as 4BWD independents, campaigning on the issue of Gaza, became the second largest group, while in Pendle all Labour councillors quit the party over the issue, and in Burnley an independent group who also quit over Gaza continues to run the borough in a minority coalition.

The Blackburn-born and Brierfield-raised politician, who lives in Simonstone, served as an MEP for the North-West from 2004 to 2019 first as a Liberal Democrat then as a Conservative, quitting that party in March over its failure to tackle Islamophobia in its ranks.

Mr Karim told the Lancashire Telegraph: "The recent English local election results show the dangers that lie ahead if our traditional values are not immediately reasserted.

"It is heartening to see the predictions of Lee Anderson delivering Reform election successes came to nothing in the local elections.

"Nonetheless, there remains a pressing need to engage deeply with our working-class communities.

"Coming from an English, northern working-class community, I know the majority will reject the politics of division and hate once they feel valued and understood.

"The explicit assumption that change is coming in the form of a Labour government carries a danger.

"Many Conservative voters remain to be persuaded how to vote.

"While seeking their support, Labour also needs to regain its Muslim voters. It needs both electorates.

"Among the available options, there is an alarming growth in support for the reactionary, populist, grievance-driven politics promoted by both Nigel Farage and George Galloway.

"Politicians have a stark choice. Either bring our people together or let divide and rule flourish.

"Among those feeling particularly excluded from mainstream politics are many British Muslims, most of whom have historically voted Labour.

"Too many Labour councillors and activists voted independent in the local elections. Others have aligned for now with George Galloway or the Greens.

"Great swathes of British Muslims feel a profound sense of betrayal by the Labour leadership over Gaza. These voters neither support Hamas nor are they anti-Semitic.

"They see the Conservative stance on Islamophobia for what it is – exclusionary, discriminatory and divisive.

"It is disenchantment with the Labour Party for not upholding its own principles and the traditional British values that back international law that have led to these Muslim voters walking away.

"Labour must reassert its unequivocal commitment to both international standards of human rights and legal conventions governing the conduct of war.

"Sadly, the current Conservative leadership offers nothing but a wrecking ball.

"The next General Election will fundamentally determine which pathway we are on.

"It is time to return to our norm of a consensual, democracy built from, and in, the political centre ground."