Jeremy Corbyn Has Been Suspended By Labour In Wake Of An Anti-Semitism Investigation
Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended by the Labour Party in the wake of the inquiry by EHRC into anti-Semitism (PA)
Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended by Labour for his response to a bombshell report into anti-semitism within the party when he was leader.
The long-awaited inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded with Labour being served with an “unlawful act notice" after the party was found responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
The equalities watchdog accused it of three breaches of the Equality Act 2010, relating to political interference in anti-semitism complaints, a failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-semitism complaints, and harassment.
But in response, Mr Corbyn said he did not accept all of the EHRC's findings, and claimed the scale of the anti-semitism problem in Labour was "dramatically overstated" for political reasons.
That placed his position in the party under threat after his successor Sir Keir Starmer insisted he would adopt a "zero-tolerance" approach to anti-semitism, saying those who claimed the issue had been "exaggerated" or was a "factional attack" should be "nowhere near" the party.
Mr Starmer was repeatedly asked if that meant Mr Corbyn would now face action, but told a press conference he would "look closely" at his predecessor’s remarks and declined to make an immediate judgement.
However his hand appears to have been forced after Mr Corbyn then gave a broadcast interview less than an hour later, where 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."
And in direct response to Sir Keir'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.”
Minutes later a Labour party spokesman 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.”
Mr Corbyn said in response that he will "strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me".
He said on Twitter: "I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an anti-semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism."
The former party leader, who has represented Islington North in the House of Commons since 1983, will now sit as an independent MP while the internal inquiry takes place.
Under Labour Party rules, a suspended member cannot be put forward to represent the party in any position at any level, meaning in the event of an administrative suspension, the whip is suspended too.
Responding to the news of Mr Corbyn's suspension, veteran Labour MP and former deputy leader Harriet Harman said: "This is the right thing to do.
"If you say that anti-semitism [is] exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it and are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem."
And Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said: "This is the right decision following Corbyn's shameful reaction to the EHRC report.
"Labour is finally saying enough is enough, anti-semitism can never be tolerated in our party. Now we can finally move on."
But John McDonnell, one of his closest political allies and who served as shadow Chancellor throughout his tenure as leader, said: "On the day we should all be moving forward and taking all steps to fight anti-semitism, the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is profoundly wrong.
"In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing and resolving this.
"I urge all party members to stay calm as that is the best way to support Jeremy and each other. Let’s all call upon the leadership to lift this suspension."
The news was welcomed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl, who said: "Having presided over the descent of a proudly anti-racist party into a party that broke equalities law in its treatment of Jews, his shameless comments today showed that he remains part of the problem and is an obstruction to the resolution of the issue."
The Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling tweeted: "Many will be asking themselves why it took this long to act.
"This morning (Sir Keir Starmer) failed to say seven times that he would take action against Corbyn and now he has been pushed to do so. Hardly leadership."