Ken Loach 'absolutely wrong' to call for deselection over anti-Semitism rally

Ken Loach was "absolutely wrong" to suggest Labour MPs who attended a rally against anti-Semitism should be deselected, a shadow cabinet minister said.

Barry Gardiner also said Jeremy Corbyn had indicated a similar message in a letter to support one of the MPs who attended the rally outside Parliament.

Appearing on BBC Question Time, Mr Gardiner also apologised for describing the Good Friday Agreement as a "shibboleth", a Hebrew term used to describe a long-held custom that is outdated.

The shadow international trade secretary told the programme MPs had a right to attend the rally against anti-Semitism, which some have viewed as an indirect attack on Mr Corbyn.

The Labour leader has written a personal letter to the constituency of one Labour MP who attended the rally, Anna McMorrin, saying she had every right to be there, Mr Gardiner said.

Film maker Mr Loach reportedly said those MPs who attended the event should be kicked out of the party.

Mr Gardiner said: "Ken Loach was absolutely wrong, and Jeremy has said as much. Jeremy has said exactly that in the letter that he sent from his office to Anna to support her for being there."

Meanwhile, the international trade secretary has faced criticism after a recording of his comments about the Good Friday Agreement emerged.

"Sometimes in life it's best just to say sorry," he said.

"I am deeply sorry that I gave the impression that the Good Friday Agreement is anything other than the essential foundation of the peace that we've enjoyed in Northern Ireland for the past 20 years. It is.

"I did mean it in its other context, which was as a key word or a password. We can have that discussion later."

Mr Gardiner also defended claims he described a key Labour Brexit policy as "bollocks".

In a separate leaked recording, he dismissed the party's demands for the same benefits afforded by membership of the single market after Britain leaves the European Union.

"The Government said that it will negotiate a free trade agreement that delivers the exact same benefits as we have as members of the EU," Mr Gardiner told Question Time.

"I don't believe they can, and that is what I rather colourfully expressed as beyond credibility.

"Labour's test is absolutely right. It's to hold the Government to account for their promise."

He added: "If you leave the club, the club's not going to give you the exact same benefits, and that's why our test is right to say 'look, you can't have it'."

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