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Emily Thornberry attacked over ‘disgraceful’ reference to antisemitism on Peston show

Labour's shadow foreign secretary is asked to explain her reference to antisemitism on ITV's Peston on Sunday show

    Emily Thornberry credit: PA Images
    Emily Thornberry credit: PA Images

    Emily Thornberry has sparked anger with an apparently flippant reference to “antisemitism” during an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston.

    Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary was attempting to play down allegations of sexist bullying at a party event over the weekend.

    Asked about the alleged intimidation of a female Labour activist at a closed door session of Labour’s National Policy Forum on Saturday, Ms Thornberry sought to make light of the incident telling the Peston on Sunday show: “I think there are allegations she was pushed, she was shoved, she was intimidated - that there was antisemitism.

    "This is just kind of one of those things. I talked to her afterwards."

    One Labour MP told the JC Ms Thornberry’s remarks were an “absolute disgrace”.

    The MP added: “How could she think it was appropriate to use the very serious issue of antisemitism in such a vile and flippant way?”

    Another Labour MP told the Politics Home website: “No one mentioned antisemitism except her. There seem to be no depths to which she will not go."

    The JC has contacted Ms Thornberry to ask her to explain her remarks.

    Ms Thornberry has previously spoken at Labour Friends of Israel events – and has claimed to have been in favour of taking a firm stance on those accused of antisemitism within the party.

    Antisemitism was not on the agenda at Saturday’s meeting - and Katrina Murray, the acting chair of the National Policy Forum who was at the centre of the intimidation claims - is not believed to be Jewish.

    Ms Murray was forced to abandon an election for the full-time forum chair post by Andy Kerr, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Kerr appeared to forcibly stop Ms Murray from continuing to speak.

    Critics accused the party leadership of seeking to hold the process up because Ann Black - who was ousted as head of Labour's disciplinary body last month amid claims she was not loyal enough to Mr Corbyn - was set to win the contest to replace Ann Cryer as NPF boss.

    After a private discussion between Ms Murray and Mr Kerr at the meeting it was confirmed that the vote to decide the new NPF chair would not be taking place.

    On Monday, it was claimed Mr Corbyn’s team privately regretted the handling of the internal election vote.

    Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Lucy Powell were among those to openly criticise the treatment of Ms Murray at Saturday's event.

    Ms Berger Tweeted:"I’m ashamed to have been witness to the scenes at the NPF this morning."

     

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