Matt Hancock sparks row after branding Jeremy Corbyn an anti-semite
A row has erupted after Matt Hancock claimed Jeremy Corbyn would be “the first anti-semitic leader of a Western nation since the Second World War” if Labour wins the next election.
The Health Secretary made the incendiary comment as he tried to persuade Tory MPs to back his bid to be Prime Minister.
But Labour hit back, saying some of those in the running to succeed Theresa May had been accused of “racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny”.
Speaking at a Conservative leadership hustings organised by the ‘One Nation’ group of moderate MPs, Mr Hancock said: “The Conservative party has to get this right.
“If we don't, we could end up with the first anti-semitic leader of a Western nation since the second world war."
His remarks are particularly controversial as they coincided with the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Informed of what Mr Hancock had said, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told reporters outside the committee room where the hustings were taking place that the comment was “a disgrace”.
A Labour source added: “This baseless political attack rings hollow from a minister in a party that has supported governments that actively promote anti-semitic policies in Hungary and Poland, and has spent the week wooing Trump - the man who refused to condemn neo-fascists in Charlottesville who chanted ‘Jews will not replace us’.
“Numerous candidates in the Conservative leadership contest have been accused of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny, one of whom may be the next Prime Minister."
Meanwhile, Michael Gove told the hustings that he would be willing to delay Brexit past 31 October if it meant getting a deal done - but only by a few weeks.
The remarks are unlikely to win him support from eurosceptic Tories.
And Dominic Raab told the hustings he was “the best placed candidate to deliver Brexit”.
He said: “I have got six years negotiating experience in the Foreign Office, I've seen the EU up front and personal.
“As Brexit Secretary I looked our EU opposite numbers in the eyes. I know the strengths but also the weaknesses of their positions.
“And that’s why we don’t just need a conviction Brexiteer. We need someone who is resolute, but someone who can navigate the rocky path ahead and get Brexit delivered.
“I’m the candidate you can trust, who will give us the best shot of getting a better deal for the UK.”