The former leader of the British opposition Labour Party was suspended after a damning report that found that his party had acted illegally in the treatment of Jewish members.
Jeremy Corbyn’s whip was removed after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a report finding that Labour under his leadership had committed unlawful harassment and discrimination.
The EHRC today presented the results of its 18-month investigation and said “Our analysis points to a culture within the [Labour] party that at best has not done enough to prevent anti-Semitism and at worst has accepted anti-Semitism.
In response to the report, the former Labour Party leader said: “One anti-Semite is one anti-Semite too many, but the scale of the problem has been dramatically overestimated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party and by much of the media. This combination has harmed the Jewish people and must never be repeated.
“My sincere hope is that relations with the Jewish communities can be rebuilt and these fears overcome. Although I do not accept all their findings, I trust that their recommendations will be implemented quickly to pave the way out of this period.
Jewish groups reacted angrily to the statement, which, in their opinion, once again referred to complaints about anti-Semitism as “fake or defamation”, although precisely this reaction was classified as illegal in the EHRC investigation. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has filed a formal complaint against the Corbyn Declaration.
A Labour spokesman said: “In view of his statements today and his failure to withdraw them later, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn until the investigation is concluded.
“He has also had his whip removed from the parliamentary Labour Party.
Corbyn responded on Twitter saying he would “vigorously challenge the political intervention” to suspend him.
Former MP Luciana Berger left the Labour Party in 2019 because of the anti-Semitic abuse she had suffered. After the report was published, she said: “Anti-Jewish discrimination was a real and widespread phenomenon throughout the party, from top to bottom.
“It was not invented, concocted or exaggerated. It took place in front of everyone. Party trials gave cover to the anti-Semites. The party promoted a culture of harassment, bigotry and intimidation against Jewish people from its own ranks. At every step along the way, Jeremy Corbyn made this possible.
She said she was “appalled” by Corbyn’s reaction and said he should instead “take responsibility instead of trying to continue to cover himself up.
The withdrawal of the whip is one of the most severe punishments a party can impose on one of its members of parliament. It means that the deputy is effectively expelled from the party but remains in his seat. He must sit as an independent deputy until his party decides to reintroduce the whip.
Corbyn’s successor as party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has already stated that the party will work to implement the recommendations of the commission and publish an action plan within six weeks. Starmer said the results were “a day of shame” for Labour.
Asked about Corbyn’s reaction, the opposition leader replied: “Those who deny that there is a problem are part of the problem. Those who pretend that it is exaggerated or factional are part of the problem”.
Starmer said at a press conference: “I found this report difficult to read. And it is a day of shame for the Labour Party. We have let down the Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public. On behalf of the Labour Party, I therefore sincerely regret all the pain and grief that has been caused.
I will vigorously challenge the political intervention leading to my suspension.
I have made it very clear to those who deny that there has been a problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that they are wrong.
I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy against all forms of racism.
– Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 29, 2020
In his initial response, Corbyn said that anyone who claimed that there was no anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was “wrong” and expressed regret at how long it took “to deal with it” as the Jewish members wanted and “to bring about this change”.
The EHRC report called Corby