Peers summon Jeremy Corbyn over exodus of MPs from Labour party

Jeremy Corbyn has been summoned to address Labour peers amid fears members of the group in the House of Lords could join a growing exodus from the party.

At a meeting this week following the resignation of seven of the party’s MPs, Labour peers were united in anger at the response to allegations of anti-Semitism by the leadership.

Only one peer at Wednesday’s meeting – writer and campaigner Baroness Bryan of Partick, who was appointed to the Lords by Corbyn in June – spoke up in defence of the Labour leader, a source told Scotland on Sunday.

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At the end of the stormy gathering, peers agreed to ask Corbyn to address them and explain what was being done to respond to the concerns raised by defecting MPs.

Explaining her decision to quit, the Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger said the Labour party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

Another parliamentarian who quit Labour on Friday, the Dudley North MP Ian Austin, said his Jewish father came to the UK as a child refugee in 1939 while his family remained in Czechoslovakia and were murdered in the Holocaust.

“I don’t think I could look at my dad in the eye if I stayed in the Labour Party,” he said.

One Labour peer said colleagues fear senior Jewish members of the Labour group in the Lords could quit.

The source said senior figures such as former English FA chairman Lord Triesman and the one-time Labour donor Lord Levy were considering their positions.

“Only one person defended him [Corbyn]: Baroness Bryan,” the source said.

Peers considered sending a deputation to the Labour leader, but a majority insisted he be called to address them.

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One Jewish peer told colleagues that it was “difficult to go amongst the Jewish community and be a member of the Labour party”.

Responding to the wave of resignations, the peers were nearly unanimous in saying they “understand what they’re doing” and “neither condone nor condemn it”, the source said.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell admitted that the party needed to be “quicker and fiercer” in responding to incidents of anti-Semitism.

In a bid to calm the anger over his handling of the anti-Semitism storm, Corbyn appointed the former minister Lord Falconer to lead a review of the party’s processes.