Katy Balls

Jeremy Corbyn’s Israel comments prompt a fresh outbreak of Labour civil war

Jeremy Corbyn's Israel comments prompt a fresh outbreak of Labour civil war
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On a day when the Conservative party leadership has been thrown into disarray, there ought to be an opportunity for Labour to turn the Tory chaos to their advantage. Instead, today is shaping up to be one of Corbyn's most catastrophic days as leader yet.

At today's anti-Semitism inquiry press conference, Corbyn managed to throw the party into another anti-Semitism row after he appeared to compare Israel to Isis:

‘Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations’

His team have since taken steps to downplay any such interpretation -- explaining that he was simply trying to say that people should not be held responsible for the actions of organisations around the world on the basis of religion or ethnicity. However given that Labour is already on a sticky wicket on the issue, putting Isis in the same sentence as Israel was never a wise idea.

What's more, the comments contributed to a toxic atmosphere at the meeting with the Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth walking out in the middle of the inquiry -- reduced to tears. She has since issued a damning statement against the Labour leader, claiming that Corbyn stood by as she was 'verbally attacked' by a Momentum activist:

'This morning, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry into anti-Semitism, I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti's report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.'

Smeeth goes on to complain that no-one in the Leader's office has reached out to her since, concluding that Corbyn must go:

'I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and antisemitism in our party and in the country.'

Since the incident Rob Marris has resigned as Shadow Financial Secretary --attempting to use a point of order in the Finance Bill to do this -- unless there is a change of leadership in the Labour party.

While Corbyn's leadership already seemed untenable in light of the coup over Europe, now he is facing fresh calls to resign over Labour's handling of Labour's anti-Semitism problem things look even more bleak. It's increasingly difficult to see how he can continue to lead the party on a day-to-day basis let alone into a General Election.