Jeremy Corbyn says sorry for hurt caused to Jewish people

Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said that anti-Semites 'have no place in the Labour Party'. Picture: contributed
Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said that anti-Semites 'have no place in the Labour Party'. Picture: contributed
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Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for the hurt caused to Jews by anti-Semitism in Labour following stark warnings about the risk the row posed to the future of the party.

The Labour leader acknowledged there was an issue with anti-Semitism in the party and said people who denied that were “contributing to the problem”.

His comments came after deputy leader Tom Watson warned the party faces being lost in a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it addresses the concerns of the Jewish community.

In a stark message, Mr Watson said Labour had to take a “long, hard look at ourselves” and demanded immediate action to end tensions, including fully adopting an international definition of anti-Semitism which the party’s ruling body has so far resisted.

And the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies accused the Labour leader of “ideological hostility” to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and its 11 examples.

In a video message, Mr Corbyn said: “Driving anti-Semitism out of the party for good and working with the Jewish community to rebuild trust are vital priorities.

“I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to many Jewish people. We have been too slow in processing disciplinary cases of, mostly, online anti-Semitic abuse by party members.

“We are acting to speed this process up.

“People who hold anti-Semitic views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few – the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1 per cent of Labour’s membership of more than half-a-million – but one is too many.

“Our party must never be a home for such people and never will be. People who use anti-Semitic poison need to understand: you do not do it in my name or the name of my party. You are not our supporters.”

The latest flare-up in Labour’s difficulties over anti-Semitism has been caused by the failure to fully incorporate the IHRA definition and examples in the party’s code of conduct.

Mr Corbyn has said that seven of the examples have been fully adopted in Labour’s code of conduct, with “the essence” of the other four captured in the document.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Prime Minister Theresa May’s “reckless red lines” had contributed to the difficulties.

“No deal would be a catastrophic failure of government, which no government should survive,” he said. “The cause: PM’s reckless red lines, Tory divisions & fantasy Brexiteer promises. Parliament has a duty to prevent it.”