Jeremy Corbyn must apologise “unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation” after claiming anti-Semitism allegations were “dramatically overstated”, Labour’s chief whip has said.
In a letter to the party’s former leader, Nick Brown said Corbyn’s response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report caused “distress and pain” to the Jewish community.
Factional warfare broke out among Labour’s ranks again last week when Keir Starmer refused to readmit Corbyn as a Labour MP after he was suspended last month.
Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour Party member by the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, after clarifying his comments to say that concerns about anti-Semitism were “neither exaggerated nor overstated”.
But Starmer refused to allow him to sit as a Labour MP.
While Jewish groups and some MPs, including Margaret Hodge, had called for Starmer to act and deny Corbyn re-entry to the parliamentary party, figures on the left, such as Len McCluskey, said he should be welcomed back.
Now Brown has called for Corbyn to say sorry. It comes after Starmer said he would keep his decision “under review”.
Brown, writing to Corbyn on Monday, said that to inform an investigation into whether the former leader broke the party’s code of conduct he wanted him to consider apologising for his comments.
According to a letter passed to PA Media, Brown said: “Will you unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation apologise for your comments made on the morning of 29 October 2020, in particular for saying ‘One anti-Semite 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’, which caused such distress and pain to Jewish members of the Labour Party and the wider Jewish community?”
Brown also asked Corbyn to confirm that he will remove or edit his response – which he posted on Facebook, and asked for an assurance that he will cooperate fully with the party.
A Labour spokesman said: “Following consultation with the Labour Leader, the Chief Whip has written to Jeremy Corbyn about his precautionary suspension from the whip.
“In the interests of transparency, a copy of this letter has been put in the public domain. We will not be making as it seeks to implement the EHRC’s recommendations.g any further comments.”
The EHRC report found Labour had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints, though Corbyn said the scale of the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents inside and outside Labour, along with the media.