Labour leadership: Thornberry says Corbyn's office told her concerns over relations with Jewish community weren't 'any of her business'

Ashley Cowburn
BBC

Emily Thornberry has claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s office told her it wasn’t “any of her business” when she attempted raise the party’s deteriorating relationship with the Jewish community almost three years’ ago.

The shadow foreign secretary made the claim after she clashed again with Rebecca Long-Bailey, the left wing candidate in the Labour leadership contest, over her record on tackling antisemitism in the party’s ranks.

The remarks from Ms Thornberry – during a debate on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme – comes as she faces being eliminated from the race to succeed Mr Corbyn on Friday if she fails to pass the nominations threshold.

“I think it is known two and half, three years ago and said I am very concerned about what is happening in relation to our relationship with the Jewish community and we do need start dealing with this issue, and I was told that it wasn’t any of my business,” she said.

“I was told that in the leader’s office. When I went in and I had a meeting and said I have had these meetings these organisations, I’m really concerned about what’s happening and a break down in trust and I was told it wasn’t for me as shadow foreign secretary to be raising this.”

Asked whether it was Mr Corbyn she had spoken to, she replied: “Not by Jeremy Corbyn, but by those around him.”

It comes after the Islington South and Finsbury MP accused Ms Long-Bailey of failing to push for tougher action of antisemitism, telling BBC Newsnight that she did not “remember” her colleague speaking out in the shadow cabinet.

“It also should be said that Keir and I were both in the shadow cabinet and would regularly, the two of us, call for regular reports to the shadow cabinet,” Ms Thornberry said on Wednesday evening.

Ms Long-Bailey disputed her claim and said she would sign up to the 10 pledges on tackling antisemitism in the party that has been set out by the Board of Deputies of British Jews if she wins the Labour leadership contest on 4 April.

"As leader I will be signing up to the 10 pledges. I would expect my shadow cabinet and all those within it, all our members and MPs within parliament to follow my lead on that," she added.

Ms Long-Bailey also said the party did not deal “swiftly” enough with accusations of antisemitism in Labour’s ranks, adding: “I agree that not enough took place and we didn’t take the action that was required.”

The Labour Party has been approached for comment on Ms Thornberry's claims.

Read more

Long-Bailey did not do enough on antisemitism, Thornberry says