Politics

Emily Thornberry squirms as she is grilled on Jeremy Corbyn ‘route back’ into Labour Party

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Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended pending further investigation and has had the whip removed since the release of the EHRC report into the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism. The former Labour leader has repeatedly denied all accusations. ITV’s Robert Peston asked the Shadow Foreign Secretary: “Is there a route back for Jeremy Corbyn to membership in the Labour Party?”

Speaking on ITV’s Peston, Ms Thornberry said: “What I have always thought is that disciplinary matters are absolutely not for politicians to be deciding on.

“It is something the party has to decide.

“I am a leading politician in the Labour Party and whatever my personal views are, it would be incredibly inappropriate to put my great big feet into the middle of this.”

She added: “It’s a matter that should done on an arm’s length basis that’s what the EHRC has told us we should be doing.”

Prominent Jewish community figures have expressed “disgust” at ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s response to a report into allegations of anti-Semitism in the party by a human rights watchdog.

The comments came after Jewish leaders met with Mr Corbyn’s successor as Labour chief, Sir Keir Starmer.

The discussions were in the wake of a scathing probe into Labour by the EHRC.

Sir Keir suspended Mr Corbyn from the party because of his predecessor’s public comments on the EHRC report.

Sir Keir met with Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, and Mike Katz, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the Jewish community leaders said they thanked Sir Keir and Labour for their “firm and constructive response” to the “damning verdict” delivered by the EHRC.

They said: “We expressed our disgust that his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn had, by contrast, responded by diminishing and dismissing the legal findings of the report, thereby challenging the Labour Party’s new commitment to rooting out the problem and giving the party no choice but to suspend him.

“While we discussed a constructive means of Labour delivering the technical recommendations of the EHRC report, a crucial element of the way forward is about culture.

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“Those who are responsible for obstructing the new, positive direction set for the party around anti-Semitism and undermining the confidence of the Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members are part of the problem and the Labour leadership will need to find a way to put a stop to it.

“Calls for leniency on the basis of party unity are misplaced when the issue at hand is anti-Semitism. If the party is to show zero tolerance to anti-Semitism, there can be no unity with anti-Semites or their enablers.

“Indeed, the EHRC rightly dismissed such political considerations as being inappropriate for an issue in which Labour has moral and legal responsibilities.

“Recognising the progress made, but that there is still a long way to go, we expressed our ongoing willingness to work with Keir Starmer and Labour to return the party to being proudly and unequivocally anti-racist once more.”

Speaking after his suspension, Mr Corbyn said he would “strongly contest” what he called a “political intervention”.

He added: “I’ve made absolutely clear that those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.

“It’s also undeniable that a false impression has been created of the number of members accused of anti-Semitism, as polling shows: that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem.”

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