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Board of Deputies condemns Labour MP's comments backing Ken Livingstone

Chris Williamson said it was a “real pleasure and a privilege” to be sharing a platform with Jackie Walker, who is facing expulsion from Labour over allegations of antisemitism.

    Controversial Labour MP Chris Williamson
    Controversial Labour MP Chris Williamson

    Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has called for the whip to be removed from an outspoken left-wing Labour MP after the politician called for suspended Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker both to be readmitted to the party.

    Chris Williamson, a pro-Jeremy Corbyn MP, was speaking at a Momentum-organised event in Peterborough on Saturday when he said it was a “real pleasure and a privilege” to be sharing a platform with Ms Walker, currently facing expulsion from the party over allegations of antisemitism.

    In the speech to activists, Mr Williamson insisted he would be "absolutely delighted" if Ms Walker was allowed to rejoin Labour, adding: “We’ve got these ridiculous suspensions and expulsions from the party… in the most grotesque and unfair way.

    “Jackie is one, and Ken Livingstone is yet another.”

    Reacting to the comments, Mr Arkush said: “Sadly, this is the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from Chris Williamson.

    "We called for him to be sacked last year from the shadow cabinet over outrageous comments labelling claims of antisemitism in Labour ‘a dirty lowdown trick’.

    "His actions since have confirmed that he is an embarrassment to his own party and the party should consider further sanctions against Mr Williamson, including a public rebuke and the removal of the Labour whip.”

    Mr Williamson had agreed to attend the event despite local MP Fiona Onasanya pulling out last week, citing “concerns” over the speakers.

    He also called for "action” to be taken against fellow Labour MP John Mann, saying: "He verbally abused and physically harassed [Ken Livingstone] in the most intimidating way in front of TV camera crew.”

    Mark Gardner, Community Security Trust director of communications, said: “If you want to understand mainstream Jewish communal fears about the Labour Party, Chris Williamson MP’s defence of Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone is a good place to start: as is his attack on John Mann MP, who sits on the opposite end of Labour’s stance on these issues.”

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