Jeremy Corbyn, the former UK opposition leader, was readmitted to the Labour party on Tuesday after insisting he had not maintained that anti-Semitism in the party was “overstated”.
The former Labour party leader was suspended last month by his successor, Keir Starmer, following a damning investigation into racism by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. It found that the party had conducted “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination”.
In response to the report at the time, Mr Corbyn rejected the EHRC’s findings. “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,” he said.
Five members of Labour’s national executive met for several hours on Tuesday to consider Mr Corbyn’s suspension and opted to reinstate the MP for Islington North. Their decision came as he posted another statement on his Facebook account clarifying his initial remarks.
“To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’,” he wrote in contradiction to his initial statement. “I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.”
Although Mr Corbyn was accepted back as a Labour member after the NEC’s decision, he has yet to be welcomed back into the parliamentary party as an MP.
Insiders said Sir Keir’s decision on whether he will be given the Labour whip will be made on Wednesday. One senior figure suggested, however, that it was “hugely unlikely” Mr Corbyn would be a Labour MP again.
The expedited hearing of the NEC was criticised by the three main leadership groups of the UK’s Jewish community. In a joint statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust said: “Today’s decision is a retrograde step for the party in its relations with the Jewish community . . . Labour’s mountain to climb to win back the trust of our community just got higher.”
While Mr Corbyn’s readmittance was welcomed by leftwing activists, it was criticised by internal and external opponents who said the decision undermined Sir Keir’s pledge of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism within Labour.
The Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s largest group of Jewish members, claimed that the process had been expedited and criticised Mr Corbyn’s statement as “insincere and wholly inadequate”.
“Once again we find ourselves having to remind the Labour party that Jeremy Corbyn is not the victim of Labour anti-Semitism — Jewish members are,” the group said in a statement, adding that he had failed to apologise for anti-Semitism under his leadership.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking and a longtime critic of Mr Corbyn, said the process was the result of “a broken outcome from a broken system”.
Amanda Milling, co-chair of the Conservative party, also criticised Sir Keir for “failing to stand up for British Jews” by letting Mr Corbyn return to Labour.
“By allowing Jeremy Corbyn back into the Labour party he is sending a message that the shameful anti-Semitism of recent years should be allowed to continue.”
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