Sir Keir Starmer has warned Labour MPs to be "very careful" with the language they use about the Israel-Hamas war after a North East MP was suspended.

The Labour leader described the wave of Islamophobia and antisemitism which has sprung up since the beginning of the conflict.

Andy McDonald, Middlesbrough MP, was suspended pending an investigation for a speech he made during a pro-Palestine protest last weekend.

During a visit to Clearly Drinks in Sunderland today (Friday, November 3), Mr Starmer confirmed that he would not be commenting on the specific investigation.

He said: "All representatives of the Labour Party have a duty to be very careful in the language that they are using.

"We have seen a huge rise in Islamophobia and a huge rise in antisemitism.

"We all have a duty to ensure that our communities are secure and safe.

"That duty to chose words carefully is on every single Labour representative and I don’t apologise.

"In Andy’s individual case that is obviously subject to a process now so I’m not going to comment on that but the general approach is one that is very important.

"It is about being very very careful about the words that we use."

Mr McDonald used the phrase "from the river to the sea" during his speech at the pro-Palestine rally.

He believes that the situation has been misrepresented.

After he was suspended, he said: "I am saddened to have received the news from the opposition chief whip that I have been placed under 'precautionary suspension' for a period of three months, which is reviewable pending an investigation by the Labour Party.

"I look forward to engaging and fully cooperating with the inquiry.

"Throughout the past two days, there have been a number of misrepresentations of my words in the media.

"These have furthered baseless and extremely harmful representations against me, which I feel obliged to respond to now, in order to avoid any further errors in the press.

"In my speech on Saturday, I said the following: 'Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty'.

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"These words should not be construed in any other way than they were intended, namely as a heartfelt plea for an end to killings in Israel, Gaza, and the occupied West Bank, and for all peoples in the region to live in freedom without the threat of violence.

"I will be happy to explain these views to the investigation when it convenes, and trust that the whip will be restored.

"In the meantime, for the sake of humanity, I hope and pray that we see an end to war in Gaza, and steps are taken towards a lasting peace."