Sir Keir Starmer admits he is 'disappointed' in Jeremy Corbyn but says there is 'no reason for civil war'
Sir Keir Starmer has admitted he is “disappointed” in Jeremy Corbyn but insisted there is “no reason for civil war”.
The former Labour leader was suspended from Labour yesterday following the publication of a damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on antisemitism.
Mr Corbyn had claimed the move was “political intervention”, and again insisted antisemitism in the party was "dramatically overstated for political reasons".
He has now vowed to fight his suspension, raising the prospect of a bitter battle between his allies and those supporting the elected Labour leader.
Today Sir Keir insisted there was no need for conflict, playing down the chances of a massive internal rift.
He said: "I don't want a split in the Labour Party.
"I stood as leader of the Labour Party on the basis I would unite the party, but also that I would tackle antisemitism.
"I think both of those can be done, there's no reason for a civil war in our party.
"But we are absolutely determined, I am absolutely determined, to root out antisemitism.
"I don't want the words Labour and Labour Party and antisemitism in the same sentence again."
Mr Corbyn’s first response to the report had been to dismiss both the scale of the problem and his own responsibility.
The Islington North MP had said: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.
"While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
Sir Keir today explained this was not good enough.He said:"I was disappointed in Jeremy's response yesterday, particularly since I had said in my response that the Labour Party will not tolerate antisemitism, nor will it tolerate those who deny there's a problem of antisemitism and say it's all exaggerated or factional," Sir Keir added.
"That, for me, is part of the problem."
Last night Mr Corbyn’s supporters made clear they opposed the decision, but nobody has yet resigned.
His former shadow chancellor John McDonnell labelled the move “profoundly wrong”, and the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs tweeted that they “firmly oppose the decision”.
Diane Abbott added: "Divided parties don't win elections.
"I oppose the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party and will work for his reinstatement.
"For us the fight against antisemitism and all forms of racism is central to the struggle for better world.”
The EHRC had identified serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing anti-Semitism and an inadequate process for handling complaints.
They found the party under Mr Corbyn was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to: political interference in complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism cases and harassment.
The EHRC's interim chairwoman Caroline Waters said there had been "inexcusable" failures which "appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so".
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