TEN councillors in Jack Straw's Blackburn constituency have threatened to quit the Labour Party if war on Iraq begins without United Nations backing.

The protesters, two of whom serve on Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board, made the announcement that they would "consider their positions" last night.

They have all signed a letter of protest which they were due to present to the Foreign Secretary today. A copy has also been sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Today Jack Straw said he would not make any comment until he had spoken to the councillors. But Bill Taylor, leader of the council and Mr Straw's election agent, said: "Our local MP has a lasting role to play to secure the safest possible and most peaceful resolution to these tensions."

The ten protesters, who are all Asian, said their stance had nothing to do with religion and they claimed to have the support of five other white councillors.

Coun Dave Harling, of Corporation Park ward, today backed their stance but said he would not quit over the issue.

But three of the four others who could be contacted by the Lancashire Evening Telegraph today denied supporting the move and distanced themselves from the views.

Councillors Akhtar Hussain (Shear Brow), Faryad Hussain (Queen's Park), Mahfooz Hussain (Bastwell), Mohammed Hussain (Bastwell), Mohammed Khaliq (Bastwell), Mohammed Khan (Wensley Fold), Tahir Mahmood (Audley), Salim Mulla (Queen's Park), Abdul Patel (Little Harwood with Whitebirk) and Jan Yusuf Virmani (Audley) insisted a second UN resolution was vital before war was declared.

They said war on Iraq would be unjust and did not represent the people of East Lancashire and Britain as a whole.

The councillors said they were against conflict on humanitarian grounds and said the evidence for war was at best inconsistent and at worst "clutching at straws with a salesman's pitch."

Executive member Mahfooz Hussain, said: "We are his Labour constituency councillors, we have to take our stand for others to follow.

"We want to put pressure on Tony Blair and Jack Straw to finally listen. It is a matter of principle."

"We abhor the fact that Saddam Hussain has used chemical and biological weapons. This man is evil and needs to be removed but not without the backing of UN, " said Coun Abdul Patel.

Coun Salim Mulla said: "We have been asked to resign by the people we represent.

"A lot of people think if you are a Labour councillor you are backing the war but that is not the case. There is a lot of opposition within the party and people are saying they will not vote for Mr Straw again."

Naushad Surve, assistant secretary for the Blackburn Labour Constituency party, said: "The Labour party used to stand for social values, caring for people, but that has been lost and replaced with war mongering."

Mr Straw said: "I've no comment to make about this except to say that I am meeting the councillors later today to discuss the position."

He said he would also discuss military action against Iraq with representatives from the Lancashire Council of Mosques who are equally concerned about the prospect of war.

The move comes after Government ministers Clare Short, International Development Secretary and Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons, have also said they will consider resigning.