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Diane Abbott apologises to Jewish MP for antisemitism debate 'snub'

Diane Abbott writes to Alex Sobel and says she is 'genuinely sorry' for failing to respond to his question in Tuesday's Commons antisemitism debate

    Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West in a previous Commons speech (Screengrab: Youtube)
    Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West in a previous Commons speech (Screengrab: Youtube)

    EXCLUSIVE

    Diane Abbott has apologised in writing to the Jewish MP she ignored in the Commons when he spoke about the antisemitic abuse he had been subjected to on social media.

    Alex Sobel, the Leeds North West Labour MP, had asked the Shadow Home Secretary to give way during her closing speech in Tuesday's emotional debate on antisemitism.

    Anger had mounted as Ms Abbott initially refused to interrupt her own oration to allow the MP, who had not had the opportunity to speak in the main debate, a chance to make his point.

    When he did get the chance to speak and ask her to condemn antisemitic abuse "across the political spectrum and within our own political party" Ms Abbott failed to respond and continued with her own speech.

    Now, in an emailed apology seen by the JC, the Shadow Home Secretary has said she is "genuinely sorry" she had not responded to Mr Sobel's question.

    She added: "It may have been due to pressure of time, or some lack of hearing or clarity on my part in grasping your last sentence. In any case, you have my sincere apologies."

    In an earlier message sent to Ms Abbott following Tuesday's debate, Mr Sobel said he had been expected to be called to speak in the debate as "the only Jewish Parliamentarian elected in 2017".

    He added: "It became clear after 6.30pm I wouldn’t be called and so I thought that as our frontbencher spokesperson on the summing up of the debate you would take an intervention as I have seen you kindly do to other Labour MPs in the past. 

    "In the event of the debate, it took a little while and a supportive note from Jeremy Corbyn to allow the intervention.

    "I am grateful that you did take the intervention. After the intervention, you didn’t respond to my point. After the debate, you told me it was due to being unable to hear it. "

    When Ms Abbott did allow Mr Sobel the chance to make an intervention in the debate he gave an example of abuse he had received for being Jewish on the Channel 4 Facebook page - and he also asked Ms Abbott to condemn antisemitism "across the political spectrum and within our own party.

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