Former minister quits Labour and accuses Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism

Posted On: 
20th December 2018

A former minister has quit the Labour party and accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism among his supporters.

Ivan Lewis has been suspended by Labour since November last year.
Credit: 
PA Images

Ivan Lewis, who had been suspended by the party over allegations of sexual harassment, said he could "no longer reconcile my Jewish identity and current Labour politics".

In a letter to Mr Corbyn announcing he was resigning his membership with immediate effect, the Bury South MP said the Labour leader and close aide Seumas Milne "do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own state".

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Labour sources described the claim as "false and bizarre".

Mr Lewis, who served as a minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, was suspended by Labour in November last year following allegations he made inappropriate sexual advances towards women.

At the time, his lawyer said: "Mr Lewis has previously acknowledged that on some occasions his invitations to people he works with to join him for dinner or drinks have made them feel uncomfortable. He apologises if this caused them discomfort and if he underestimated the impact his invitations to drinks or dinner could have."

In his resignation letter, the MP claimed he had never been interviewed by the party and said delays in the investigation had been "politically-motivated".

He said: "I have made it clear that I strongly refute the charges which have been made and I am willing to co-operate with a truly independent process."

Elsewhere in the letter, Mr Lewis said: "It is for others to determine whether you are anti-Semitic, but what is absolutely clear is that you and Seumas Milne do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own state.

"This is different to your view on the right to self-determination for every other minority community. I believe in a negotiated two-state solution, you should be honest and acknowledge your preference is that there should only be a state of Palestine. 

"To compound this, all too often you have been unwilling to condemn those whose hatred of Israel becomes Jew hatred. This is incompatible with being a lifelong campaigner against racism."

A Labour spokesperson said: "Jeremy Corbyn thanks Ivan for his service to the Labour party. The Labour party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and appropriate disciplinary action taken. 

 "This case was referred to a full hearing of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee. The process is the same for everyone.”

A Labour party source added: "Ivan was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment. His resignation means the complainants have been denied a hearing."