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Fri, 27 November 2020

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Keir Starmer Has Described Jeremy Corbyn's Readmission To The Labour Party As "Another Painful Day For The Jewish Community"

Keir Starmer Has Described Jeremy Corbyn's Readmission To The Labour Party As 'Another Painful Day For The Jewish Community'

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn

3 min read

The Labour leader said he would not let a "focus on one individual" prevent him from taking further steps to tackle anti-semitism within the party.

The former Labour leader was suspended last month after suggesting the scale of anti-semitism in the party had been "dramatically overstated" by political opponents and the media following a scathing report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

But a five member panel of the party's ruling National Executive Committee decided on Tuesday to readmit Mr Corbyn as a member following a public statement in which he claimed it was "not his intention" to downplay anti-Jewish racism and regretted causing "pain" with his comments.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sir Keir repeated his assertion that Mr Corbyn's initial statement "was wrong" and had caused "trauma" to the Jewish community.

"I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle anti-Semitism," he said. "I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.

"Jeremy Corbyn's statement in response to the EHRC report was wrong and completely distracted from a report that identified unlawful conduct in our tackling of racism within the Labour Party. This should shame us all."

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

"I know we have a long way to go, but I am absolutely resolute in my determination to make the Labour Party a safe place for Jewish people. I stand by the commitments I made last month to accept the findings and the recommendations of the EHRC's report in full.

"That must mean establishing an independent complaints process as soon as possible in the new year. This is my commitment and my promise to our party, the Jewish community and the British people."

But the decision to readmit Mr Corbyn sparked anger among Jewish groups, with the Jewish Labour Movement branding the move as "extraordinary".

"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."

While the NEC decision restated Mr Corbyn's membership to the party, a spokesperson for Sir Keir confirmed no decision had been made on whether to restore the Labour whip to him, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit in the House of Commons as an independent MP.

The move has led to confusion around Mr Corbyn's position, with allies of the former leader insisting the reinstatement of the Labour whip should be automatic now his suspension has been lifted.

But other MPs have called on Sir Keir to withold the whip, saying the short suspension would be viewed as a "slap on the wrist".

Labour MP Neil Coyle tweeted on Tuesday: "To those who feel as let down as I am seeing from some members today, I'd like to apologise. I didn't think I'd have to do that for the Labour Party after the EHRC report. I'm sorrt we are yet to rebuild trust and regain support. I'm sorry Labour processes are not yet fixed."

And responding to Sir Keir's comments, he added: "Labour leader admits the Party is not a safe space for Jewish people still. This is a huge admission & a new disappointment to those of us who have consistently sought action.

"A commitment to further action against all who prevented throwing racists out of our Party is necessary."

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