Sayeeda Warsi, whose induction into the cabinet won Prime Minister David Cameron much applause and became Britain’s first woman Muslim cabinet minister in 2010, has resigned, saying she can “no longer support” the government’s policy on Gaza.
Pakistan-origin Warsi wrote on her Twitter feed that she was leaving with "deep regret".
Pakistan-origin Warsi’s induction into the cabinet by Prime Minister David Cameron was widely hailed, particularly because the Conservative party enjoys less support in the Asian community, which has traditionally supported Labour.
Warsi, 43, said in her resignation letter that the Cameron government’s policy on Gaza was "morally indefensible, is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term effect on our reputation internationally and domestically".
Her resignation and the grounds on which she resigned was welcomed by several leaders, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, but chancellor George Osborne called it “disappointing and frankly unnecessary”.
Warsi said the decision to resign "has not been easy", but there is "great unease" within the Foreign Office over "the way recent decisions are being made".
"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 that I can be sure of that," she wrote in her letter.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The PM regrets that Baroness Warsi has decided to stand down and is grateful for the excellent work that she has done both as a minister and in opposition. Our policy has always been consistently clear - the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we've urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire."
Warsi, who has visited India previously, was co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and worked as a solicitor before entering politics. In 2012, she was demoted from the cabinet to a middle-ranking Foreign Office post in 2012.
Hailing from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, Baroness Warsi is one of five daughters of Pakistani immigrants.
She wrote on 21 July on Twitter: "The killing of innocent civilians must stop. Need immediate ceasefire in #Gaza. Leadership required on both sides to stop this suffering."
Three days later she added: "Can people stop trying to justify the killing of children. Whatever our politics there can never be justification, surely only regret #Gaza."