Luciana Berger rejoins Labour Party after receiving apology for antisemitism

Luciana Berger left Labour in 2019 over what she called 'a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation'. Credit: PA

By Multimedia Producer James Hockaday

Luciana Berger has rejoined the Labour Party, four years after she left over the "volume and toxicity of anti-Jewish racism" allowed to fester under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

The Jewish former MP left in February 2019 over what she described as a "a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation" within the party.

In a letter Labour's current leader Sir Keir Starmer offers her an apology for the "disgusting" and "intolerable" abuse she suffered.

He called her decision to leave "principled and brave", and said her being forced out by "intimidation, thuggery and racism" will "forever be a stain on Labour's history".

Sir Keir Starmer set out five missions for a future Labour government at the start of 2023 Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Inviting her to consider rejoining, he writes: "I don’t ask this lightly. I know how difficult and complex a decision this will be for you.

"But it is my firm belief that this is a party unrecognisable from the one you left in 2019."

Ms Berger accepted the offer, acknowledging that under Sir Keir's leadership, the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) moved the party out of special measures.

A damning report by the EHRC in 2020 found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

Mr Corbyn rejected some of the report’s findings and claimed the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by his critics.

His comments led to Labour’s headquarters suspending him from the party.

Sir Keir said the findings of the EHRC investigation were “hard to read”, adding that it was “a day of shame for the Labour Party”.

In her letter, Ms Berger says: "It gave me no pleasure or comfort that the party had been found guilty of harassment of its Jewish members.

"I was therefore encouraged to see you accept the EHRC findings in full and dedicate the party to implementing all of the action plan."

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for doing too little to tackle antisemitism in the party. Credit: PA

She adds: "As you have rightly said, this is not a moment for celebration and there is a great deal more to do.

"However, it is a significant moment from which Labour can return to a place where discrimination is an aberration that strikes at the heart of everything the party stands for."

Shortly before Ms Berger left the party, she faced a no-confidence vote by Labour members of her Liverpool Wavertree constituency over her criticism of Mr Corbyn's handling of the party's antisemitism row.

The motion was withdrawn after it emerged that one of her key opponents within the CLP described her as a "disruptive Zionist".

After leaving, she went on to found the centrist, pro-EU Independent Group - later named Change UK - in February 2019, but left the group in June that year to sit as an independent.

At the time, she said she had "no intention" of joining the Liberal Democrats, but joined just two months later over its anti-Brexit stance. She left the House of Commons in 2019.

Sharing the news of Ms Berger's return on social media, Sir Keir tweeted: "I’m delighted Luciana has accepted my invitation to rejoin Labour.

"My test for change was whether those who were rightly appalled by how far we had fallen believe this is their party again.

"I know we’ve more to do but we’re unrecognisable from the party that forced her out."

Ms Berger tweeted: "The Labour Party has turned a significant corner under Keir’s leadership. I’m pleased to be returning to my political home."

Margaret Hodge, another prominent Corbyn critic who stayed in the Labour during the antisemitism crisis, welcomed Ms Burger back.

"It's so important that those who were pushed out of the Labour Party because of vile antisemitism now feel able to return to their political home," she tweeted.

"We've come so far. Labour is proudly an outward looking, tolerant & inclusive party once again."

Jewish Labour Movement added: "Our former Parliamentary Chair @lucianaberger is a hero of the Labour Movement.

"What happened to her under Corbyn's leadership was a disgrace and she showed immense bravery. That she feels now is the time to rejoin shows the party is on the right track."

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