Nov 17, 2020 - World

U.K. Labour Party readmits Corbyn after suspension over anti-Semitism comments

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The U.K. Labour Party has reinstated its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after he was suspended late last month over his response to a watchdog report that found the party failed to properly take action against allegations of anti-Semitism during his time in charge, per BBC.

Driving the news: After the country's Equality and Human Rights Commission released its report, Corbyn said in a statement, "[T]he scale of the problem was ... dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."

  • At the time, Labour said Corbyn's suspension was "in light of his comments ... and his failure to retract them."
  • In its report, the EHRC said it found that Labour was responsible for "unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination" linked to anti-Semitism.
  • It also found "a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it."
  • The EHRC said Corbyn's office had politically interfered on 23 separate occasions regarding the anti-Semitism complaints.

On Tuesday, a five-member disciplinary panel from the party's National Executive Committee decided Corbyn should be readmitted to the party, per Sky News.

What he's saying: "I am pleased to have been reinstated in the Labour Party and would like to thank party members, trade unionists and all who have offered solidarity," Corbyn tweeted on Tuesday.

  • "Our movement must now come together to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government," he added.
  • Earlier Tuesday, Corbyn said in a statement: "I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it."
  • "To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’. The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism."

Jewish groups opposed Corbyn's reinstatement, with the Jewish Labour Movement calling the move "extraordinary."

  • Corbyn "has offered no apology for his total failure of leadership to tackle antisemistim in the Labour Party," the Jewish Labour Movement said in a statement.
  • “Once again we find ourselves having to remind the Labour Party that Jeremy Corbyn is not the victim of Labour antisemitism — Jewish members are.”
  • Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, tweeted, "This sends an appalling message. 'Zero tolerance' either means zero tolerance or it's meaningless."

Keir Starmer, Labour's current leader, called Tuesday "another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism."

  • "I will not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling antisemitism. When I stood as leader of the Labour Party, I was clear that my first priority would be to root out antisemitism," tweeted Starmer, who previously said he had no involvement in Corbyn's suspension last month, but supported it.
  • "I stand by the commitments I made last month to accept the findings and the recommendations of the EHRC’s report in full," Starmer added.
  • "That must mean establishing an independent complaints process as soon as possible in the New Year. This is my commitment and my promise to our party, the Jewish community and the British people."
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