What took so long?
Labour suspends Jeremy Corbyn over reaction to anti-Semitism report
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has suspended predecessor Jeremy Corbyn from the party after he said the scale of its anti-Semitism problem had been “dramatically overstated”.
The remark followed a report finding Labour responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination during Mr Corbyn’s time in charge.
Labour said he was being suspended “for a failure to retract” his words.
Mr Corbyn called the move “political” and promised to “strongly contest” it.
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Sir Keir, who became Labour leader in April, said the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report had brought “a day of shame” for the party.
The report found the party responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act:
Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints
Failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints
The investigation found evidence of 23 instances of “inappropriate involvement” by Mr Corbyn’s office, included staff influencing decisions on suspensions or whether to investigate a claim.
Sir Keir promised to implement the report’s recommendations “as soon as possible in the New Year” and to change Labour’s culture.
Responding to the EHRC’s findings, Mr Corbyn said he was “always determined to eliminate all forms of racism” and “regretted it took longer to deliver… change than it should”.
But he claimed his team had “acted to speed up, not hinder the process”, and that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.
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By Leila Nathoo, political correspondent
This is a huge moment for Labour under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.
If there were lingering doubts about whether this is a party under new management, with a new direction, there aren’t now.
Suspending his predecessor shows he is determined to do whatever it takes to close the door on the issue of anti-Semitism within Labour and break from the past.
It will appear ruthless to some, decisive to others – and certainly provocative to Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.
By doing this, Sir Keir can follow through on his “zero-tolerance” promise on anti-Semitism while putting clear water between him and the man in whose shadow cabinet he served before himself becoming leader.
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Labour later 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.”
Mr Corbyn reacted to his suspension on Twitter, writing: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
“I will continue to support a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said: “This is the right decision following Corbyn’s shameful reaction to the EHRC report.
“Labour is finally saying enough is enough, anti-Semitism can never be tolerated in our party. Now we can finally move on.”
Mr Corbyn, an MP since 1983, was Labour’s leader from 2015 until earlier this year – and has been a party member for 55 years.
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