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Sir Keir Starmer has condemned Jeremy Corbyn following a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into anti-Semitism within Labour. Last month, the report found Labour broke equality law during the tenure of Mr Corbyn but the 71-year-old claimed the findings had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.
The former leader has since been reinstated as a party member by the ruling National Executive Committee but Sir Keir has not restored the Labour whip.
Mr Corbyn also sought to clarify his remarks, saying: “To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.”
This attempt to row-back has not been welcomed by Sir Keir, who feels his initial response was unacceptable.
And the crisis erupted further over the weekend, with deputy party leader Angela Rayner threatening a huge blood-letting.
She said “thousands” of members may need to be removed from the party due to anti-Semetism.
Speaking at a Jewish Labour Movement virtual conference on Sunday, Sir Keir said Mr Corbyn’s first response to the report was “just about as bad as you can get”.
Sir Keir said: “I can’t tell you how disappointed I was with Jeremy Corbyn’s response.
“Because the words he used, what he said, coming from the former leader of the Labour Party in response to that report were just about as bad as you can get.
“Everything in a sense that has followed in the last few weeks follows from those words, and that has exacerbated the pain and the hurt and we are in a position that I did not want to be in.”
At the same event, Ms Rayner urged members to “get real” and warned there was no place in the party for those who refuse to acknowledge the issue of anti-Semitism.
Ms Rayner added: “Our members need to get real about this, If they don’t think antisemitism is within the Labour Party and that there’s problems now, then there’s really no place for them in the Labour Party.
“If they think making people feel unsafe or unwelcome in our meetings is a response to the EHRC report, then they need to be out of our party immediately. People need to understand what our Jewish community have been through.
“We should have a bit of humility. We should be listening and aware of how hurt and upset people are.
“I feel really, really angry actually that there’s been scenes like that in our CLP meetings.
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“If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that. Because we cannot and we will not accept an injury to one, because an injury to one is an injury to all. That’s what we say in our movement.
“It’s about education as well. It’s about having this approach where we don’t accept that people – you know, we have debates but there’s no debating what the EHRC said.
“There’s no debating whether anti-Semitism exists in the Labour Party. It does, and we’ve got to do everything we can to stamp it out.”
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