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Sat, 28 March 2020

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Labour MPs back internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism in snub to Corbyn

Labour MPs back internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism in snub to Corbyn
2 min read

Labour MPs have lined up to support the globally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism in a snub to party bosses.

A succession of backbenchers stood up to throw their weight behind calls for the Parliamentary Labour Party's rule book to adopt in full guidelines issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on anti-Jewish abuse.

Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green told a packed PLP meeting that she "can't look Jewish relatives in the eye" after the party's ruling NEC last week stopped short of fully adopting the IHRA definition.

That decision has sparked a furious backlash from leading figures in the Jewish community.

Former Shadow Cabinet member Hilary Benn told the PLP meeting: "This has gone on too long. When you're in a hole, stop digging."

Chris Bryant criticised Labour general secretary Jennie Formby - who said tackling anti-Semitism was her top priority when she was appointed earlier this year - for missing the last two PLP meetings, at which the issue has dominated debate.

Jeremy Corbyn did not attend tonight's meeting either, although Labour sources insisted he was never supposed to be there.

Labour MPs will hold a ballot in September on incorporating the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, along with its accompanying examples, into its standing orders. It is expected to pass comfortably.

Only Lord Prescott, the party's former deputy leader, questioned whether the anti-Semitism problem was as serious as many say.

Speaking after the meeting, veteran MP Margaret Hodge - who is facing disciplinary action for calling Jeremy Corbyn "an anti-Semitic racist" - said she was "deeply depressed and almost tearful" at the anti-Semitism controversy.

She also criticised the Labour leader for not attending the meeting: "It would have been much, much better if he had been there."

Earlier today, lawyers acting for Mrs Hodge accused Labour of trying to "silence her" in their efforts to discipline her.

"Unfortunately, the opening of the investigation into our client does raise questions of abuse of power by party leadership," they said.

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