No place in Labour Party for those who want to tackle anti-Semitism, says May

Theresa May has said there is no place in the Labour Party for those who want to tackle anti-Semitism as she defended the Government over local authority cuts.

The Prime Minister listed three senior Labour figures in local government she said had been forced out after they had "supported building more homes, providing good local services and tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used Prime Minister's Questions to accuse the Government of asking households and businesses to pay more to receive less and taking a "slash-and-burn" approach to local government.

The Prime Minister said: "He says that his shadow local government secretary is supporting councils. I wonder if he's supporting these councils.

"Haringey, where the Labour leader was forced out. Brighton, where the Labour leader was forced out. Cornwall, where the Labour group leader was forced out.

Prime Minister's Questions
Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne listens to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister's Questions (PA)

"What have these people done? They had supported building more homes, providing good local services and tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

"So the message is clear - if you believe in good local services, if you want to see more homes built, and if you want to tackle anti-Semitism, there is no place for you in the Labour Party."

Mr Corbyn began the session by challenging Mrs May to explain if Tory-run Northamptonshire County Council's collapse is a result of Conservative "incompetence" locally or nationally.

A Government report last week recommended the council should be partitioned into two new unitary councils, after it emerged Northamptonshire was close to effective bankruptcy and was unable to meet its financial obligations.

Mr Corbyn also highlighted the outsourcing undertaken by Barnet council under the Tories, saying local authorities were facing a £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.

Council funding had been cut by half since 2010 and households now faced council tax rises of £1 billion, he said.

"This Conservative Government has slashed public services," said Mr Corbyn.

"They've cut funding and expect councils to pick up the pieces. The result of this is children's centres are closing, schools are struggling, fewer police on the streets, older people being left without care or dignity, and refuges turning women away.

"The Tory's own head of local government says it's unsustainable, and doesn't it tell you everything you need to know about this Government that it demands households and businesses pay more to get less."

Mrs May said a look at local authorities up and down the country showed "Conservative councils cost you less".

She added it would be helpful if Mr Corbyn "accurately reflected" the independent inspection into Northamptonshire, saying the report was clear the failure was not a case of under-funding.

When it comes to local government, the Conservative offer is 'pay more for less'. Our local communities are suffering after eight years of the Tories - only Labour will stand up against Conservative cuts. Share the facts ?

-- Melanie Onn MP (@OnnMel) March 21, 2018

Mr Corbyn said: "Does the Prime Minister really believe that the slash-and-burn model for local government is really a good one?"

The Labour leader also accused the Government of "tearing the heart out" of local high streets over business rates, citing criticism from retail guru Mary Portas.

But the Prime Minister attacked shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne, who she said supported "a tax on your home and your garden" as well as a new hotel tax.

"We all know what would happen under Labour. More taxes, and ordinary working people would pay the price," she said.

At the end of the session the Prime Minister criticised the Labour leader for failing to mention unemployment figures published on Wednesday, which she said showed joint record high levels of employment.

"Who do I think benefits from a strong jobs market? Labour staffers, Labour council leaders and moderate Labour Members of Parliament," said Mrs May.

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