Starmer: Corbyn 'knew exactly' that anti-Semitism comments would see him suspended

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) alongside shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer during a press conference in central London.
Sir Keir Starmer has insisted Jeremy Corbyn knew "exactly" what he would say on anti-Semitism. (PA)
  • Sir Keir Starmer said Jeremy Corbyn knew “exactly” what he would say on anti-Semitism on Thursday

  • Corbyn’s team has reportedly denied this

  • The ex-leader was suspended after Starmer said those who claim the anti-Semitism issue in the party is exaggerated had no place in Labour

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has insisted Jeremy Corbyn “knew exactly” that he would say there was no place for people in the party who claimed the anti-Semitism controversy was exaggerated.

The ex-leader was suspended from Labour and had the whip removed after he responded to a critical report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of events during his leadership by saying the issue was “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

Corbyn’s comments on Thursday came shortly before Starmer held a press conference, in which he said if anyone in Labour thought the party’s anti-Semitism problem was exaggerated or a factional attack “then, frankly, you are part of the problem too”.

Corbyn said he did not accept all of the watchdog’s report and said he will “strongly contest” the decision to suspend him.

Starmer, who said the report marked a “day of shame” for his party, claimed on Friday morning that Corbyn knew the remarks he was going to make ahead of the suspension.

Watch: Starmer says no reason for “civil war”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m deeply disappointed in that response from Jeremy Corbyn yesterday not least because I spoke to him the night before the report to set out how I intended to deal with it.

“And from discussions yesterday morning I’m in no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn and his team knew exactly what I was going to say in my response about not only anti-Semitism but about the denial and the arguments about exaggeration and it’s just a factional fight.”

The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot said this was “specifically denied by Team Corbyn”. Yahoo News UK has contacted his constituency office for comment.

The EHRC said unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination took place in Labour and found evidence Corbyn’s office engaged in “political interference” in the party’s complaints procedure.

Labour has been served an unlawful act notice and has until 10 December to draft a plan to implement the report’s recommendations.

Dianne Abbott, who served as Corbyn’s shadow home secretary, shared a petition calling for Corbyn’s reinstatement.

Starmer also said: “There is no reason for a civil war, there’s no reason to lean inwards, that is not what I want.

“I want to unite the party, that is the basis on which I ran my leadership campaign.”

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