Moving antisemitism vote would leave Labour Jewish MPs facing prospect of Rosh Hashanah meeting

Jeremy Corbyn suggested a postponement - but next time MPs will meet is during the Jewish New Year


Jeremy Corbyn's request to move a crucial vote on antisemitism to after the summer break would leave Jewish MPs facing the prospect of being asked to attend a rescheduled meeting on Rosh Hashanah.

The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will meet on Monday night for the last time before parliament's summer recess and Labour MPs are due to debate a motion that would force the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to vote on incorporating the full internationally accepted definition of antisemitism into their own official rulebooks.

If passed, the vote would put Labour MPs at odds with the party leadership, who pushed for the NEC to adopt different guidelines - without a vote - that omit key examples of how criticising Israel can be antisemitic.

But on Sunday Mr Corbyn said he would prefer the PLP debate to be "delayed until September" so more people could attend.

"I also think MPs should get full notice of that issue," he said. "Obviously the parliamentary party is quite free to debate it but, as with all functions of the Labour party, ultimately, standing orders must be approved by the national executive committee and that cannot happen until the autumn.”

But it has now emerged that the only PLP meeting scheduled to take place September would be on September 10. Rosh Hashanah begins on the previous night.

MPs return from their six-week summer break on September 4, which is a Tuesday, and with the Labour Party conference taking place later in the month in Liverpool, September 10 is the only Monday that month the PLP could meet.

The emergency motion, which was submitted to the PLP for Monday night’s meeting, was tabled by Jewish Labour MPs Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth.

The motion, if passed, calls on the party to amend its rulebook to include an obligation on members “to accept and abide by the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, including all of its accompanying examples”.

It was also backed by Luciana Berger MP, the parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, who said she expected the motion would be accepted for debate and voted upon when time allowed.

“Its purpose is to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the parliamentary party. It is unfathomable that we find ourselves in this position as a party,” Ms Berger said.

The JC has also learned that Mr Corbyn was not expected to attend Monday’s PLP meeting – despite the fact that it is customary for the party leader to address MPs on the final meeting before the summer break.

Last year, Mr Corbyn told MPs at the final PLP meeting to remain united in the face of a Tory threat.

Jennie Formby, Labour’s General Secretary, was also set to miss Monday’s meeting, as she is believed to be on holiday.

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