Jeremy Corbyn 'regrets' Labour anti-Semitism but refuses to apologise personally again

27 November 2019, 21:26

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a climate emergency rally in Falmouth
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a climate emergency rally in Falmouth. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Jeremy Corbyn has said he “regrets” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and “will not tolerate racism in any form but once again stopped short of personally apologising for it.

Mr Corbyn gave his backing to what he said was a party apology, after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis staged an unprecedented intervention, saying he was unfit to be prime minister.

Key figures on the Labour leader's frontbench apologised on Wednesday, after the party leader refused to do so four times during his interview with the BBC's Andrew Neil.

But Mr Corbyn did not go as far as to issue one in his own name when speaking at a campaign stop in Falmouth on Wednesday.

Asked if he would apologise for incidents within the party and his handling of the issue, the Labour leader reiterated that the degree of anti-Semitism within Labour "is very, very small".

He told LBC News: "Jennie Formby our general secretary has written a substantial article in the Jewish News today making clear the party deeply regrets and is very sorry for what happened before the new rules came in and obviously I support everything that she has said on that.

"I have made it very clear that our party will not tolerate racism in any form or anti-Semitism in any form, and our party obviously deplores it and regrets what happened to those people who received that abuse, and they have received the appropriate sanctions within the party, some of whom have been expelled."

The article by the leader of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee said Rabbi Mirvis "has every right to highlight the anxiety that Jewish people feel" and defended the party's current disciplinary process but did not include an apology.

Labour's shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon had said "of course we're sorry for the hurt caused" and shadow chancellor John McDonnell also apologised on Wednesday.

Rabbi Mirvis's letter to The Times did not appear to have dampened the enthusiastic support for Mr Corbyn during a campaign stop at the packed-out Princess Pavilions events hall in Falmouth.

There were boos for the Prime Minister after Mr Corbyn showed the supporters the document he says proves the NHS is on the table in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US and cheers of "not for sale".