Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the readmission of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn to the party just weeks after he was suspended marked “another painful day for the Jewish community”.
Sir Keir said he would “not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling anti-Semitism” and vowed to make the Labour Party “a safe place for Jewish people”.
He restated his criticism of Mr Corbyn’s response last month to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report which found that Labour had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints.
Mr Corbyn’s claim that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and “much of the media” led to him being suspended and having the whip withdrawn.
I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism. I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) November 17, 2020
The former opposition leader later sought to clarify the remarks, but his reinstatement – decided at a meeting of the disputes committee of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee on Tuesday – has been met with fierce opposition.
Sir Keir tweeted: “I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism. I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement in response to the EHRC report was wrong and completely distracted from a report that identified unlawful conduct in our tackling of racism within the Labour Party. This should shame us all.
“I will not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling antisemitism. When I stood as leader of the Labour Party, I was clear that my first priority would be to root out antisemitism. It still is.
“I know we have a long way to go, but I am absolutely resolute in my determination to make the Labour Party a safe place for Jewish people. I stand by the commitments I made last month to accept the findings and the recommendations of the EHRC’s report in full.
“That must mean establishing an independent complaints process as soon as possible in the New Year. This is my commitment and my promise to our party, the Jewish community and the British people.”