Growing calls for Jeremy Corbyn to boot out anti-Semitism row MP Chris Williamson

28 June 2019, 09:28 | Updated: 28 June 2019, 14:44

Jeremy Corbyn is facing growing demands to kick Chris Williamson out of the party as a long-time ally of the Labour leader has insisted the controversial MP "has to go".

Jon Lansman, the founder of the grassroots Momentum group, said Mr Williamson had not shown "one iota of contrition" after the Derby North MP claimed the party had been "too apologetic" in the face of criticism over its handling of anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler has also told Sky News she believed Mr Corbyn should make a statement on the situation, but insisted he should not get involved in disciplinary matters.

It ramps up further pressure on Mr Corbyn after more than 140 Labour MPs and peers led by deputy leader Tom Watson demanded he intervene and withdraw the Labour whip from Mr Williamson.

Mr Corbyn left home without making any comment this morning.

The angry backlash follows the contentious decision to readmit Mr Williamson - a vocal supporter of Mr Corbyn - to the party after being issued with a formal warning by a National Executive Committee (NEC) anti-Semitism panel.

Wading into the row, Mr Lansman accused Mr Williamson of showing "contempt" for the panel's ruling for tweeting that he had received an "avalanche" of support from grassroots members.

Responding on Twitter, Mr Lansman said: "This tweet reveals not one iota of contrition nor any acknowledgement of wrongdoing following a further formal warning from the Labour Party for behaviour grossly detrimental to the party. Such contempt for the party's verdict! He has to go!"

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has also said he "can't understand" the decision and expressed the hope it would be overturned.

Ms Butler said: "I think that Jeremy should make a statement in terms of what he thinks about the situation, but asking him to get involved is in breach of our procedures - as leader he should not be getting involved in disciplinary matters."

A Labour source said: "It would be wholly inappropriate for a leader to pick and choose cases in the way that is being demanded.

"Several of the MPs who have signed (Mr Watson's statement) have in the past argued against political interference."

However, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, one of the members of the three-member panel which agreed to let Mr Williamson back into the party with a warning, has now called for the decision to be reviewed.

Labour MPs have now taken steps to have Mr Williamson suspended from the parliamentary party.

More than 60 MPs have signed a motion calling for the Derby North MP to have the whip withdrawn for 12 months under the standing orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

It calls for the case to be referred to the parliamentary committee - the influential backbench body which meets weekly with Mr Corbyn - at its next meeting on Wednesday.

If approved it would then go a vote of the full PLP at Westminster the following week.

Signatories to the motion include Yvette Cooper, Dame Margaret Hodge, Wes Streeting, David Lammy and Diana Johnson.

Mr Williamson was suspended in February after footage emerged of him telling a meeting of the Momentum group that Labour's reaction to anti-Semitism allegations had led to the party being "demonised".

He was also filmed saying he had celebrated the resignation of MP Joan Ryan, who quit Labour in protest over the handling of anti-Semitism and bullying complaints.

Meanwhile, a survey by Ipsos Mori suggested Mr Corbyn has the worst overall satisfaction rating (-58%) of any opposition leader since 1978 - beating the record previously held by Michael Foot (-56%).