Jeremy Corbyn suspended from Labour over 'comments he made' on anti-Semitism report

29 October 2020, 13:12 | Updated: 29 October 2020, 13:56

Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour party
Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour party. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation over comments he made following the publication of a bombshell anti-Semitism report.

The former Labour leader was widely criticised over a statement he posted on Facebook following the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's (EHRC) investigation into anti-Semitism in the party.

The damning report by the EHRC found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

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Sir Keir said the findings of the EHRC investigation marked a "day of shame" for Labour and he was "truly sorry" for the pain caused.

Minutes before he was suspended, Mr Corbyn told Sky "of course not" when asked whether he would resign.

Afterwards he tweeted: "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."

Mr Corbyn rejected some of the report's findings and claimed the issue had been "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by his critics.

His comments prompted Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to take decisive action against his predecessor.

A spokesperson for the Labour Party 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.”

In a broadcast interview, Mr Corbyn insisted he was not "part of the problem" over the party's handling of anti-Semitism.

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."

In response to Sir Keir Starmer's comments about those who deny the seriousness of anti-Semitism being part of the problem, Mr Corbyn said: "No, I'm not part of the problem."

Labour MP Harriet Harman said Mr Corbyn's suspension is "the right thing to do".

"This is the right thing to do," Ms Harman tweeted.

"If you say that AS exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it & are, as @Keir_Starmer says, part of the problem."

The statement that got Corbyn suspended...

“Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism. I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.

“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.

“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.

“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”