Keir Starmer Says There Is "No Need For Civil War" After Jeremy Corbyn's Suspension Triggered A Major Party Split
Sir Keir has said he was "very disappointed" by Jeremy Corbyn's response to the EHRC report
Keir Starmer has insisted he doesn't want to be drawn into a "civil war" following a major backlash to Jeremy Corbyn's suspension from the party.
The Labour leader has called on the party to "unite" following warnings from senior party figures that Jeremy Corbyn's suspension would create "chaos" and cost them the next election.
Mr Corbyn was suspended by Labour General Secretary David Evans after he rejected the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into anti-semitism, saying the level of anti-Jewish hatred was "overstated" by his political opponents and the media.
But the decision has triggered a major internal row, with Unite leader Len McCluskey claiming it was an "act of grave injustice".
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr McCluskey, whose union is Labour's largest donor, said that unless Mr Corbyn was reinstated the party would be "doomed to defeat" at the next election.
"This was a day for our party to move forward as one to defeat the evil of anti-Semitism. However, the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn has threatened that opportunity," he said.
"The suspension appears to fly in the face of one of the important recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – and which Keir himself said he would implement in full and immediately – which is to remove the leader's office from party investigations.
"But it is also an act of grave injustice which, if not reversed, will create chaos within the party and in doing so compromise Labour’s chances of a general election victory. A split party will be doomed to defeat."
Mr Corbyn has already vowed to fight his suspension, hitting back at what he claimed was a "political intervention" to have him removed.
Meanwhile, a raft of senior figures on the left of the party also lined up to criticise the decision, with former shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying it was "profoundly wrong".
He tweeted: "On the day we should all be moving forward & 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."
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott added: "Divided parties don't win elections. I oppose the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party and will work for his reinstatement."
But Sir Keir, who said he was "very disappointed" by Mr Corbyn's comments, insisted there was "no need for a civil war".
"What Len McCluskey is concerned about is that there shouldn't be a split in the Labour Party and he is right about that," he told Sky News.
"I don't want a split in the Labour Party. I stood as leader of the Labour Party on the basis that I would unite the party but also that I would tackle anti-semitism.
"I think both of those can be done. There is no need for a civil war in our party, but I am absolutely determined to root out anti-semitism.
"I don't want the words Labour Party and anti-semitism in the same sentence again. That is about building trust. That is my job, that is the job of the Labour leadership now, I know that now.
"The Jewish communities are looking at me and they are saying very clearly that we will judge you by what you do and not by what you say and they are right about that. I am determined to restore that trust and we can have a united Labour Party around that."
He added: "I'm not purging anybody or any group within the Labour party.
"What I’m being very clear about is the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate anti-Semitism, full stop.
"Nor will it tolerate those who say anti-Semitism in the Labour Party doesn't really exist, it's exaggerated, or it’s just a factional war whipped up in or outside the Labour Party, including by the media."