EXCL Chris Williamson sparks new row with Labour MP over constituency appearance
A Labour MP has sparked a row with a backbench colleague after defying him to appear at a campaign event in his constituency.
Chris Williamson was asked by Neil Coyle not to attend 'The Empire Strikes Back In South America' in Southwark, south east London, on Saturday.
Mr Coyle, the Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, emailed Mr Williamson in advance to say he feared the event was a "distraction" ahead of a local council by-election in the area this Thursday.
He also said that previous rows involving Mr Williamson's support for activists accused of anti-Semitism could "embarrass" Labour and cost the party votes.
He said: "It is a split ward and too close to call. The Lib Dems are throwing everything at it and it is a very tough fight.
"I strongly object to any event which focuses attention away from the campaign. Any event is a distraction and could cost activists, volunteers and most importantly votes.
"I am aware you have shared platforms with people under investigation for antisemitism. I strongly object to any event that could bring the party and the local Labour campaign into disrepute. I hope you would avoid embarrassing the party, especially so close to an election."
However, Mr Williamson went ahead with his appearance - and later tweeted pictures of himself with former London mayor Ken Livingtone, who quit Labour last month amid the ongoing row over his comments about Adolf Hitler, and Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled by Labour following a clash with Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth.
PoliticsHome also revealed last month that Labour bosses had asked Derby North MP Mr Williamson not to share platforms with Mr Wadsworth.
Mr Williamson said: "I informed Neil that I’d be attending an event in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, as is the protocol.
"I remain hopeful that Neil will come to understand that solidarity has no borders and in future he won’t make a fuss about his colleagues who come to Southwark to address the burning issues of poverty, development and Trump’s aggression in Latin America."