Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not understand why Frank Field resigned the Labour whip over accusations of anti-Semitism in the party.
The Labour leader said on Monday he was “sorry” that the Birkenhead MP decided to quit but added: “I don’t see why he had to resign”.
Last week Field dramatically announced he would now sit as an independent in the Commons and accused Corbyn of becoming a “force for anti-Semitism”.
Field also said the party’s actions under Corbyn served to “legitimise appalling levels of bullying and intimidation”.
Speaking on a train from Liverpool to Hull on Monday, Corbyn said: “Frank has been a Labour MP for a very long time, even longer than I have.
“I’ve known him for a very long time. I’ve worked with him in the past on social security and other issues. Sometimes we haven’t agreed but we have always got along personally.
“I’m sorry he’s resigned and I thank him for all the work that he’s done as an MP and for the party, but I don’t see why he had to resign.”
Asked about claims of bullying, the Labour leader added: “I’d have to see the claims, I don’t know what the claims are or what the details of them are.”
Gordon Brown yesterday warned the very “soul” of the party he once led was now at stake.
The former prime minister told a meeting of the Jewish Labour Movement the party must “immediately and unequivocally” adopt the internationally-agreed definition of anti-Semitism.
Corbyn has been heavily criticised over the summer amid accusations he tolerates anti-Semitism or is even an anti-Semite himself – something the Labour leader denies.