Jeremy Corbyn criticises 'deeply damaging' Government after Labour reinstatement

17 November 2020, 19:54 | Updated: 17 November 2020, 20:34

Jeremy Corbyn tweeted after he was reinstated
Jeremy Corbyn tweeted after he was reinstated. Picture: Twitter

By Kate Buck

Jeremy Corbyn urged people to "come together" to oppose the Government after being reinstated to the Labour Party.

The former Labour leader tweeted: "I am pleased to have been reinstated in the Labour Party and would like to thank party members, trade unionists and all who have offered solidarity.

"Our movement must now come together to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government."

Following the news, his successor Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: "I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism.   I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt."

He added: "I will not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling antisemitism. When I stood as leader of the Labour Party, I was clear that my first priority would be to root out antisemitism. It still is."

Read more: Jeremy Corbyn readmitted to Labour Party following suspension

Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party three weeks ago and had the whip withdrawn over his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission which found that the party had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints.

He issued a statement in response to the report, which notably did not apologise for presiding over the party when some of the complaints were made.

In it, he said the problem was "dramatically overstated", although today appeared to backtrack and say concerns around anti-Semitism in Labour were not "exaggerated".

Ahead of a meeting of the party's disputes committee, Mr Corbyn revealed he had given a statement to Labour in an attempt to "clear up any confusion" over his initial response and a broadcast interview given in the wake of the report.

Read more: 'A retrograde step' - Jeremy Corbyn's reinstatement met with criticism

His reinstatement has been met with fierce opposition.

Senior Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish, said she could not "comprehend" why it is acceptable for him to be a Labour MP "if he thinks anti-Semitism is exaggerated and a political attack".

She tweeted: "This is a broken outcome from a broken system. A factional, opaque and dysfunctional complaints process could never reach a fair conclusion. This is exactly why the EHRC instructed Labour to setup an independent process!"

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said the decision was a "retrograde step for the party in its relations with the Jewish community" and warned that "Labour's mountain to climb to win back the trust of our community just got higher".

While Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the lifting of Mr Corbyn's suspension showed "the Jewish community has been conned".

He said the "shambolic suspension and readmission" of Mr Corbyn appeared to have been "nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow" of the EHRC report.

"By readmitting Mr Corbyn, the Labour Party has once again excused anti-Semitism and proved itself unwilling to address it," he claimed.

The Jewish Labour Movement said it appeared Mr Corbyn's case had been "expedited" by a "factionally aligned political committee".

In a statement, the group said: "It is extraordinary that just weeks after the EHRC found that the Labour Party has discriminated against Jewish members through political manipulation of the disciplinary process, it appears that the party expedited this case for hearing by a factionally aligned political committee.

"After his failure of leadership to tackle anti-Semitism, so clearly set out in the EHRC's report, any reasonable and fair-minded observer would see Jeremy Corbyn's statement today as insincere and wholly inadequate."

Labour MP Neil Coyle, a prominent critic of Mr Corbyn, suggested the Equality and Human Rights Commission "may not be done" with the party in the wake of his readmittance.

And Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling claimed that by allowing Mr Corbyn back, Labour is "sending a message that the shameful anti-Semitism of recent years should be allowed to continue".

However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said the former leader's readmission was the "correct, fair and unifying decision".

"As a party we now move forward to implement the EHRC's recommendations and redouble our efforts to inspire voters about Keir's 10 pledges... and the transformation of our nations into fairer places for our people," he tweeted.

"Only Labour, united and strong, can bring this about."

Mr Corbyn had claimed that while "one anti-Semite is one too many" 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".

He was suspended after his successor as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that people who believed it was "exaggerated, or a factional attack" were "part of the problem" and "should be nowhere near the Labour Party either".

But Mr Corbyn acknowledged ahead of a meeting of the disputes committee on Tuesday that concerns around anti-Semitism in Labour were not "exaggerated".

He revealed he had given a statement to the party in an attempt to "clear up any confusion" over his initial response and a broadcast interview given in the wake of the report.