Jeremy Corbyn readmission to Labour party 'another painful day for the Jewish community' - Sir Keir Starmer

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen explains the latest from Westminster

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says the readmission of Jeremy Corbyn to the party just weeks after he was suspended marked “another painful day for the Jewish community”.

Sir Keir said he would “not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling anti-Semitism” and vowed to make the Labour party “a safe place for Jewish people”.

He restated his criticism of his predecessor's response last month to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report which found that Labour had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints.

Mr Corbyn’s claim that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and “much of the media” led to him being suspended and having the whip withdrawn.

The former opposition leader later sought to clarify the remarks, but his reinstatement – decided at a meeting of the disputes committee of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee on Tuesday – has been met with fierce opposition.

Sir Keir tweeted: “I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism. I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement in response to the EHRC report was wrong and completely distracted from a report that identified unlawful conduct in our tackling of racism within the Labour Party. This should shame us all.

“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. It still is.

“I know we have a long way to go, but I am absolutely resolute in my determination to make the Labour Party a safe place for Jewish people. I stand by the commitments I made last month to accept the findings and the recommendations of the EHRC’s report in full.

“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.”

It is understood no decision has been taken on whether to restore the Labour whip to the former leader.

Sir Keir’s comments came after Mr Corbyn called on Labour to “come together”.

“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,” the Islington North MP wrote on Twitter.

“Our movement must now come together to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.”

But the reinstatement sparked a fierce backlash from Jewish MPs and societies, including Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge.

She said she could not “comprehend” why it is acceptable for Mr Corbyn to be a Labour MP “if he thinks anti-Semitism is exaggerated and a political attack”.

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told ITV News:  “I was absolutely stunned, to be honest. I think this decision is nothing more than a sham.

"It comes so soon after the publications of the EHRC report. What we have seen today is the politicisation of the disciplinary process by Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters."

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Louise Ellman, who was previously Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement but resigned from the party due to anti-Semitism, was unhappy with the result of the hearing.

“It does not look like a Labour Party that has changed its culture of anti-Jewish racism," Ms Ellman told ITV News.

“I am very disappointed this has happened.”

Louise Ellman, former Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement

Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed Mr Corbyn’s suspension was “nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow” of the EHRC report.

The Jewish Labour Movement said it appeared the former party leader’s case had been “expedited” by a “factionally aligned political committee”.

However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said the former leader’s readmission was the “correct, fair and unifying decision”.

“As a party we now move forward to implement the EHRC’s recommendations and redouble our efforts to inspire voters about Keir’s 10 pledges… and the transformation of our nations into fairer places for our people,” he tweeted.

“Only Labour, united and strong, can bring this about.”