Labour's Barry Gardiner says Corbyn isn't antisemitic, just 'critical of the politics of Israel'

Shadow International Trade Secretary says Labour and its leader 'have not, in my view, been antisemitic'


Labour's Barry Gardiner has said Jeremy Corbyn and his party have wrongly been accused of antisemitism, saying the leader has merely been "critical of the politics of Israel".

The Shadow Secretary for International Trade claimed it was "important" to have "clarity" over the Labour leader's record on the issue.

He said: "What Jeremy has always done is be critical of the politics of Israel and the way Israel has dealt with the Palestinian question.

"And he has been absolutely unequivocal on that. He has not and the party has not, in my view, been antisemitic.

"It is important we have clarity on that."

Mr Gardiner's remarks, made during a BBC Newsnight interview on Friday, were in stark contrast to his previous attempts to position himself as a friend of the community who understood the anger over anti-Jewish racism in his party.

He appeared to suggest he had reached his conclusion after discussing remarks made at the 2017 Al Quds Day march in central London, where a speaker suggested "Zionists" were to blame for the Grenfell fire. 

Mr Gardiner, who standing for re-election in Brent North, said: "I wrote to the prosecution service after the Al Quds march in London a year or so ago.

"And I said 'Why didn't you prosecute these people?' that I said were making antisemitic slogans.

"They said because 'they complained about Zionism, they weren't antisemitic.'

"I need to make this point, if the Crown Prosecution Service makes a distinction between being anti-Zionist and antisemitic, then I think in the past the Labour Party has made this as well."

Mr Gardiner was asked if he had read the damning submission by the Jewish Labour Movement sent to the equalities watchdog the EHRC which made eleven allegations of antisemitism relating directly to Mr Corbyn.

But he said he had not had time to read it fully.

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