Diane Abbott suspended as Labour MP over 'deeply offensive' comments suggesting Jews do not face racism

23 April 2023, 11:17 | Updated: 24 April 2023, 01:16

Diane Abbott has apologised for the remarks
Diane Abbott has apologised for the remarks. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Diane Abbott has been suspended as a Labour MP after making 'deeply offensive and wrong' comments suggesting Jews do not face racism.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party completely condemns these comments which are deeply offensive and wrong.

“The chief whip has suspended the Labour whip from Diane Abbott pending an investigation.”

Speaking in The Observer, the former shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn said Jewish people "undoubtedly experience prejudice", which is "similar to racism" but often used as if they are interchangeable.

She said that "many types of white people" - including redheads - can experience this prejudice, but that they are not "all their lives" subjected to racism.

Diane Abbott suspended from Labour after remarks about Jewish people

Ms Abbott added: "In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus.

"In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships."

Read More: Labour MP says government under Keir Starmer will be one of 'real integrity'

Read More: Jeremy Corbyn accuses Keir Starmer of 'primary school stuff' after Labour leader says he's 'not my friend'

In the face of growing backlash to her comments, Ms Abbot said she wished to "wholly and unreservedly withdraw" her remarks and "disassociate" herself from them".

"The errors arose in an initial draft being sent. But there is no excuse, and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused," the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said.

"Racism takes many forms, and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others.

"Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them."

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington
Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Picture: Alamy

There were growing calls for the Labour party to withdraw the whip from Ms Abbott.

Labour Against Antisemitism said: “Ms Abbott is either woefully misinformed or deliberately bigoted. Neither should be tolerated."

Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said: "Once again, Jewish people have to wake up and see a Labour MP casually spouting hateful anti-semitism.

"Keir Starmer - are you actually going to do anything."

Former health secretary Sajid David wrote: "Appalled by this minimisation of racism against Jews and other groups who may not have a certain skin pigmentation."

LBC has contacted the Labour party for comment.