Jeremy Corbyn urges Labour to reconsider his suspension after comments on anti-Semitism report

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Jeremy Corbyn has urged the Labour Party to reconsider his suspension following his comments responding to a report on anti-Semitism in the party under his leadership.

The former party leader said he was "very shocked and disappointed" after the party announced he would have the whip removed.

Mr Corbyn said: "I've been in the Labour Party all my life. I want to make it very clear. Anti-Semitism has no place whatsoever in our party or our movement.

"I've opposed it and racism in all its forms for all my life."

He added: "I'll be appealing to the party and those who made this decision to kindly think again. All I've done is pointed out that this terrible issue of anti-Semitism does exist...

"All I pointed out was there was a public perception of a third of Labour Party members under suspicion of anti-Semitism, the reality is very different. It was 0.3%. But that is 0.3% too many."

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It follows a statement the former leader released, responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report, in which he rejected some of the criticisms it made.

Mr Corbyn, who has been an MP for Islington North since 1983, said he did not accept some aspects of the EHRC report, which found the party, under his leadership was "responsible for unlawful acts" of anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment.

The report also said the party was guilty of political interference in antisemitism complaints.

Mr Corbyn said the scale of the problem in Labour was "dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party".

Subsequently, Labour removed the whip from Corbyn. In a statement, the party said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. "He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

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The 16-month investigation into Labour regarding anti-Semitism under his leadership also said the party broke equality laws.

The 130-page report said it found "significant failings in the way the Labour Party has handled anti-Semitism complaints over the last four years".

Mr Corbyn's comments prompted current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer - who has committed to a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic discrimination in the party - to take decisive action against his predecessor.

It was put to Mr Corbyn that current leader Keir Starmer said anyone saying the report was exaggerated was "part of the problem".

Jeremy Corbyn: 'I'm not part of the problem...'

Mr Corbyn responded: "I'm not part of the problem. The problem is anti-Semitism historically and anti-Semitism in the presence and the fear that many people have."

Asked if he would resign from the party following the report, he said "of course not, I am proud to be a member of the Labour Party".

Labour MP Harriet Harman said Mr Corbyn's suspension is "the right thing to do". Ms Harman tweeted: "If you say that AS exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it & are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem."

Sir Keir took over Labour after Mr Corbyn stepped down in April 2020 following a poor performance at the 2019 General Election.

Mr Corbyn's suspension comes 364 days after he launched the party's 2019 General Election campaign.

Sir Keir Starmer, since taking over from Mr Corbyn, has committed to a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic discrimination in the party. Credit: PA

The Jewish Labour Movement said blame for the "sordid, disgraceful chapter" in the party's history "lies firmly with those who held positions of leadership".

Pointing blame at Mr Corbyn, the report said: "It is hard not to conclude that anti-Semitism within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so."

In an interview recorded before he was suspended, Mr Corbyn said he was "sorry" to the Jewish community for anti-Semitism within the Labour Party while he was leader, but says he did not fail in his aim of tackling it.

Responding to the report, he said: "I don't accept that we were harassing people or discriminating against people. What I do recognise is that there was an insufficiency of process in the party."

He said he is "sorry that hurt was caused to anybody", but when asked if he had failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, he said: "I don't believe I did fail.

Corbyn: 'I don't believe I did fail...'

"I believe I brought in the rules that were necessary and those are the ones that are now in operation which means that the process is much more rapidly dealt with."

The report, which was launched in May 2019, was commissioned to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the party and how it responded to complaints.

It said there were "serious failings" in the way complaints were handled until at least 2018.

"Specific examples of harassment, discrimination and political interference" were found, but the report also noted "a lack of leadership within the Labour Party on these issues", which it said was "hard to reconcile with its stated commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism".