Richard Burgon must 'make total apology' for Zionism comments, says Louise Ellman

The shadow justice secretary was revealed to have once said 'Zionism is the enemy of peace'


Richard Burgon must make a "total apology" for saying "Zionism is the enemy of peace" before he will be a "credible candidate" to be Labour's deputy leader, Dame Louise Ellman has said.

Mr Burgon, the shadow justice secretary and longtime ally of Jeremy Corbyn, announced he would stand to be the party's deputy leader on Tuesday.

Mr Burgon previously maintained he had not said "Zionism is the enemy of peace" but when video footage surfaced of him saying it in a speech in 2014, he claimed he "did not recall" saying it but "it is now clear that I did and I regret doing so".

The video showed he had said: "The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of the peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.

"We need to be loud... and we need to be proud in our support of the Palestinian people."

Dame Louise, who quit Labour over its antisemitism and was MP for Liverpool Riverside until the election, told the Daily Telegraph Mr Burgon should "make an absolute apology and total withdrawal of those comments before he could be considered a credible candidate."

Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, told the Telegraph that Mr Burgon's past comments "show a complete misunderstanding of the link between despising the Netanyahu government and welcoming and accepting the right of Jews to have their own country”.

“The failure to distinguish is one of the issues which lies at the heart of antisemitism in the party. So he has to demonstrate it and for me he doesn’t pass that test,” she said.

Mr Burgon denied "lying" during a Newsnight interview in May, saying: "As I have subsequently said on numerous occasions when asked about this, I do not agree with that phrase.

“I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law, and those, such as the current Israeli government, which is undermining efforts towards peace."

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