Sir Keir supported the decision made by the Labour Party to suspend Mr Corbyn over his comments on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report. The report found major issues with Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints by the leadership, an problem that has followed the party since Mr Corbyn took charge in 2015. Yet, this isn’t the first time Sir Keir and Mr Corbyn have clashed over the issue. In the Labour Party leadership race, Sir Keir said he spoke to his then leader directly about the antisemitism problem.
During the Jewish Labour Movement hustings, the then Shadow Brexit Secretary was asked if he had called out the problem after the BBC Panorama investigation was released.
He responded: “I remember that programme well and being shocked by the response that was put out… I remember what I said to Jeremy.
“I said I’ve never been in an organisation that turns on its staff before, ever. Because what message do you think that sends not just to the ex-staff but current staff who speak out.
“They will be branded disloyal. I think it was utterly wrong that statement was put out and I said that directly the next morning.”
Divisions in the Labour Party have widened after former leader Mr Corbyn was suspended for his statement responding to the EHRC report on antisemitism.
The report stated that Labour could have addressed the crisis more effectively, and after Mr Corbyn responded to the findings, he had the whip removed by leader Sir Keir.
The EHRC report claimed Labour could have addressed the antisemitism crisis more effectively “if the leadership had chosen to do so”.
It also found that Labour breached the Equality Act in two cases, committing “unlawful harassment” against Jewish people while dealing with cases relating to Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley.
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The EHRC found the party guilty of “indirectly discriminatory and unlawful” actions when dealing with complaints, but Mr Corbyn responded with a defence yesterday.
He said: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.
“That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
Mr Corbyn was swiftly suspended from the party, with leader Sir Keir supporting the decision.
Sir Keir said: “I made it clear that we won’t tolerate antisemitism or the denial of antisemitism through the suggestion it is exaggerated or factional.
“That’s why I was disappointed with Jeremy Corbyn’s response, and that’s why appropriate action has been taken.”