Labour MP apologises after claiming new Independent Group of MPs could be ‘supported by Israel’
A Labour MP has apologised after claiming that a new Independent Group of MPs could be receiving funding from Israel.
Ruth George said she had “no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory” after she highlighted the fact that Jewish MP Luciana Berger - one of seven Labour backbenchers to quit the party yesterday - has links to a pro-Israel campaign group.
Announcing her resignation, Ms Berger said: “I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-semitic.”
High Peak MP Ms George was responding to reports that a local Labour councillor had liked a Facebook comment describing the MPs involved in the breakaway as “Israelis”.
She said she would "condemn the calling of anyone as an Israeli when it’s not the case".
But she then added: "The comment appears not to refer to the independent MPs but to their financial backers. Support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel of which Luciana was chair is possible and I would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed. It’s important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy."
Her remarks led to a furious backlash, with many people pointing out that she was propagating an anti-semitic trope.
In a statement released on Twitter, Ms George, who serves as a parliamentary aide to Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, said she was sorry for the “poorly worded comment”.
“On my earlier response to a Facebook comment, I unreservedly and wholeheartedly apologise for my comment," she said.
"I had no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory and I am deeply sorry that my ill-though out and poorly worded comment did this. I withdraw it completely.”
A Labour party spokesperson said: "It's right that Ruth George has apologised for these offensive remarks. The Whips Office is reminding Ruth George of the conduct expected of her."
Ms George was previously forced to distance herself from a Twitter account in her name which posted messages comparing then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd to Hitler, and asking if Theresa May was “actually a bloke”.
Ms George said a “passionate” local campaigner had posted the tweets.