Theresa May calls on Jeremy Corbyn to 'apologise' for his handling of anti-semitism in Labour

Posted On: 
17th July 2019

Theresa May used her penultimate Prime Minister’s Questions to call on Jeremy Corbyn to “apologise” over his handling of anti-semitism in his party.

Theresa May repeatedly attacked Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism from the despatch box

The Labour leader had wanted to focus the House of Commons exchanges on climate change, but Mrs May repeatedly dragged the topic of conversation back to anti-Jewish hatred within Labour.

She highlighted a letter published in the Guardian newspaper from sixty peers within Mr Corbyn’s party, which said it “welcomes everyone except it seems, Jews.”

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From the despatch box the PM told the leader of the opposition: “This is your legacy Mr Corbyn, you still haven’t opened your eyes, you still haven’t told the whole truth.

“You still haven’t accepted your responsibility. You have failed the test of leadership. Apologise now.”

Labour MP’s reacted angrily to the comments, with Commons Speaker John Bercow forced to intervene before Mr Corbyn defended his party’s reputation, and accused Mrs May of hypocrisy.

He said: “And when 60% of Tory party members think Islam is a threat to western civilisation, and the Prime Minister has said she will act on Islamophobia in her own party, I hope she does.

“I look forward to seeing that dealt with as we will deal with any racism which occurs within our own party as well.”

The PM hit back, saying: “Any allegations of Islamophobia are dealt with, unlike his way in the Labour Party where he is failing to deal with anti-Semitism.”

And she quoted Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who said: “Labour today presents like a textbook case of institutional racism."

Mr Corbyn replied: “Coming from a Prime Minister who encouraged the hostile environment, sent go home vans around London, and deported British citizens which she has just had to compensate them for, I think she might look to her own party and her own government’s record as well.”

After several exchanges on renewable energy and air pollution, Mrs May returned to the topic in her final answer, saying that her Government was not "dodging responsibility" on climate change.

She said: “He talks about dodging responsibility, the person who has been dodging his responsibility during this PMQs is the Right Honourable Gentleman.

“The real disgraces is his handling of racism within the Labour Party; activists protesting, MP leaving, staff resigning.

“What would his great heroes of Attlee, Bevan and Benn think? Look what he has done to their party - we will never let him do it to our country.”