Eddie Mair asks shadow minister if anti-Semitism under Corbyn was news to Starmer

29 October 2020, 19:50

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Shadow minister Jonathan Reynolds was asked if anti-Semitism under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership was news to Sir Keir Starmer given that he served in his Shadow Cabinet.

The shadow work and pensions secretary was quizzed on why Sir Keir "didn't act" on anti-Semitism when part of Mr Corbyn's front bench.

Eddie Mair reminded the Labour MP of the current leader's message to his predecessor in April when Sir Keir said: "I want to pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn who led our party through some really difficult times, who energised our movement, and he's a friend as well as a colleague."

The LBC presenter then said to Mr Reynolds: "Here we are in October and he's suspending him."

He asked: "Was all of this anti-Semitism news to Keir Starmer? Why didn't he act when he was on the front bench?"

The shadow minister replied: "Keir did act. All of us who made decisions to be on the front bench believed that we could make more influence on the party by being part of it.

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Jonathan Reynolds told Eddie Mair Sir Keir did speak out on anti-Semitism under Corbyn's leadership
Jonathan Reynolds told Eddie Mair Sir Keir did speak out on anti-Semitism under Corbyn's leadership. Picture: LBC / PA

"Keir did take action. He was the first person to say we should adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism, that should be absolutely clear. He spoke out on the record."

Mr Reynolds told Eddie it was a difficult decision to remain on the front bench under Mr Corbyn, but said: "We are trying to make the right decisions now and clearly this report should be a watershed part of that."

He was then asked whether he accepted that his belief that he could change the party from within was "completely wrong".

"I still feel I would stand by that decision," he responded.

"That doesn't excuse what is in this report. We have a two-party system where only two politicals parties can reasonably form the government of the UK and clearly to walk away from one of those parties leaves you with very few options."