Watch: Labour leader apologises for anti-Semitism ‘day of shame’
The Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn after he rejected some of the findings in a damning anti-Semitism report as “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.
“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Corbyn said he would “strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.”
Sir Keir Starmer came under pressure to expel his predecessor after the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
The EHRC’s interim chairwoman Caroline Waters said there had been “inexcusable” failures which “appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so”.
Starmer said the report was a “day of shame” for the Labour Party and committed to implementing its recommendations in full.
I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.
I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 29, 2020
Corbyn insisted he was not “part of the problem” over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism.
In a broadcast interview, he said: “The numbers of cases in the public perception had become overstated.
“The existence of the problem, I fully acknowledge, which is why I took action to end the problem in the party by introducing a process to get anti-Semites out of the party.”
After the report was published Corbyn released a statement where he said: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong.”
He went on and said he did not accept all the EHRC’s findings and insisted he had improved the process for handling anti-Semitism complaints.
On the day we should all be moving forward & taking all steps to fight antisemitism, the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is profoundly wrong. In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing & resolving this.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) October 29, 2020
Former shadow chancellor and friend of Corbyn, John McDonnell, said the suspension was “profoundly wrong”.
He said: “On the day we should all be moving forward and taking all steps to fight anti-Semitism, the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is profoundly wrong.
“In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing and resolving this.”
Labour MP Harriet Harman said Corbyn’s suspension is “the right thing to do”.
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) October 29, 2020
“This is the right thing to do,” Harman tweeted.
“If you say that AS exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it & are, as @Keir_Starmer says, part of the problem.”
Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who was critical of Corbyn’s leadership and faced sustained attacks from his supporters said: “This is the right decision following Corbyn’s shameful reaction to the EHRC report.
“Labour is finally saying enough is enough, anti-Semitism can never be tolerated in our party. Now we can finally move on.”
Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl welcomed Corbyn’s suspension from the Labour party.
She said: “We welcome the decision of the Labour Party to suspend Jeremy Corbyn.
“Having presided over the descent of a proudly anti-racist party into a party that broke equalities law in its treatment of Jews, his shameless comments today showed that he remains part of the problem and is an obstruction to the resolution of the issue.”
Several Conservative MPs had called for Corbyn to be kicked from the party over the former leaders statement responding to the report.
Many will be asking themselves why it took this long to act. This morning he failed to say seven times that he would take action against Corbyn and now he has been pushed to do so. Hardly leadership https://t.co/mmgnST1I16
— Amanda Milling (@amandamilling) October 29, 2020
Co-chairman of the Conservative Party, Amanda Milling, said: “Many will be asking themselves why it took so long.”
At a press conference where he responded to the report, Starmer said: “We have failed Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public.
“And so on behalf of the Labour Party: I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused.”
Asked whether Jeremy Corbyn had been fit to be leader of the Labour Party, Starmer said: “The report doesn’t make individual findings about Jeremy Corbyn.”
But he acknowledged it made “strong findings about leadership”, adding: “We all have to accept the findings in this report, we all have to accept responsibility.
“We all have to understand the hurt and pain caused by this.”
Former Labour MP Ian Austin, who was highly critical of Corbyn’s leadership told Times Radio: “If I was Jeremy Corbyn I’d be resigning.”
He said: “Even on a day like today with a report like tis he thinks he’s the victim and is denying the problem.”
Commenting on the report during a visit to Essex Police headquarters on Thursday, home secretary Priti Patel said: “First of all, it’s quite clear from this report, I haven’t seen the details, but it’s quite clear that anti-Semitism has absolutely dominated the Labour Party for far too long.”
She said party leader Starmer – “who sat in the same shadow cabinet while all of these anti-Semitic attacks were taking place – really has to ask himself some hard questions as to why he didn’t speak out and really work now to root anti-Semitism out of the Labour Party”.
Former MP Gavin Shuker, who was one of seven MPs to leave the Labour Party in 2019 in protest at Corbyn’s leadership, tweeted: “Someone should tell Mr Corbyn that sitting as an independent isn’t all that bad.”
Watch: Berger has 'no words' for Corbyn's response to anti-Semitism report