The Labour Party has suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation following his comments responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report that was released today.
A Labour spokesperson said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Reacting to the EHRC report, which found Labour was responsible for “unlawful acts”, Corbyn claimed that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
The former leader posted on social media: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.
“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. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.
“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
In his own response to the EHRC findings, Keir Starmer declared today: “If you’re antisemitic, you should be nowhere near this party. And we’ll make sure you’re not.
“And if after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report, there are still those who think there’s no problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party. That it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack.
“Then, frankly, you are part of the problem too. And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”
The current Labour leader refused at the time to confirm whether disciplinary action would be taken against Corbyn following his statement on the EHRC report, but many suspected his remarks were a reference to his predecessor.
Responding to the suspension of Corbyn, who was Labour leader less than seven months ago, the party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement said: “Denial of antisemitism is part of the problem.
“Keir Starmer made that clear and said that he would act and that it would have no place in the Labour Party. He has taken responsibility and the Labour Party has acted.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has told BBC Radio 4’s World At One that she believes Corbyn is a “decent man” but has a “blind spot when it comes to these issues”.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which was a complainant in the EHRC investigation, has submitted complaints today about Labour MPs such as Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Rebecca Long-Bailey.
The list of MPs with CAA complaints against them also includes current frontbencher Steve Reed, who suggested in July that Tory donor Richard Desmond was a “puppet master”, and deputy leader Angela Rayner.
Asked about the other complaints, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
Update, 1.54pm: Jeremy Corbyn has tweeted in response to the suspension: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.
“I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
Update, 2.30pm: John McDonnell has tweeted that the suspension of Corbyn is “profoundly wrong” on a day that “we should all be moving forward”, adding: “In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing [and] resolving this.”
Update, 3pm: Corbyn has issued a fresh statement, which reads: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear that those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
“It’s also undeniable that a false impression has been created of the number of members accused of antisemitism, as polling shows: that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem.
“I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism. And I urge all members to stay calm and focused – while this problem is resolved amicably, as I believe it will be – to defeat this awful government, which is further impoverishing the poorest in our society.”