Emily Thornberry under fire after she praises Jeremy Corbyn for calling out racism at Holocaust memorial event

Posted On: 
28th January 2020

Emily Thornberry has been criticised after telling a Holocaust Memorial Day event that Jeremy Corbyn will "always call out" racism.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said Jeremy Corbyn would "always call out" racism.
Credit: 
PA

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is vying to succeed Mr Corbyn as Labour leader, was urged to "reflect on the reality" of the party's response to anti-semitism after making the remarks at the event in north London.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Ms Thornberry said: "It isn't just the children in this room who have been educated, it's the adults here that continue to be educated. 

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“And we continue to be reminded, particularly the politicians amongst us, that we've seen it before and I hope we never see it again, that people think they can get votes by playing the race card.

“I know that Jeremy will always call it out and I will always call it out. We are one, we are family."

The comments come as Labour continues to be investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the way it has dealt with complaints of anti-Jewish abuse in its own ranks.

Dame Margaret Hodge, a frequent critic of the party's response to anti-semitism, told the Daily Telegraph: "If it wasn’t so serious, this would be a joke. I think Emily Thornberry needs to reflect on the reality before she makes statements like that."

Meanwhile Ian Austin, a former Labour MP who quit the party to sit as an independent over Mr Corbyn's leadership, said: "It’s easy to speak about racism at a Holocaust commemoration. 

“But their words would have much more weight if the Labour Party had not been poisoned by racism against Jewish people under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. 

"He could start to make amends by booting out the racists and apologising for his responsibility for this scandal before he stands down."

The criticism of Ms Thornberry came as fellow leadership contender Sir Keir Starmer said he would order an update on ongoing complaints of anti-semitism among members on "day one" of taking up post.

And he criticised Labour deputy leadership candidates Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon, who have refused to endorse a list of 10 demands on tackling anti-Jewish abuse drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

"I disagree with them on that," the Shadow Brexit Secretary said.

"Of course there's debate to be had about the various examples that are there, but in the end there's a fundamental breach of trust between the Labour Party and Jewish communities and we need to address that urgently."