Jeremy Corbyn needs to make a “full apology” in order to be readmitted as a Labour MP, former prime minister Gordon Brown has told Sky News.
Another bitter internal battle has broken out within Labour after Mr Corbyn was told on Wednesday that he won’t have the party’s whip restored.
This was despite his suspension as a Labour Party member – prompted by his reaction to a damning antisemitism report – being lifted by a disciplinary panel earlier in the week.
The decision by current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to continue withholding the Labour whip from his predecessor means Mr Corbyn is still not officially a Labour MP.
He will continue to sit as an independent in the House of Commons, even though he has been reinstated as a party member.
Mr Brown – who led Labour between 2007 and 2010 – said Mr Corbyn needed to show contrition in order to get the Labour whip back.
“He’s got to make a full apology and it’s got to be clear there are no ifs, no buts, no qualifications about his opposition to antisemitism,” he said.
“Keir Starmer will, I think, insist on that and that’s the right thing to do.
“I’m sure mistakes have been made along the way, I’m sure he hasn’t intended these consequences – Jeremy Corbyn himself.
“But you can’t allow any impression that even one case of antisemitism in the Labour Party is acceptable.
“None are acceptable, no forms of racism, no forms of discrimination, we’ve got to root it out once and for all.”
Asked what an apology from Mr Corbyn needed to include, Mr Brown added: “He’s got to say ‘I’ve got it wrong’.
“He’s got to say ‘I made a mistake’, he’s got to say ‘whatever people think, I am not antisemitic in any way and when I made these mistakes, I now want to apologise for them’.”
On Wednesday night, 30 Labour MPs demanded Mr Corbyn be allowed to rejoin the parliamentary party and branded Sir Keir’s action “wrong and damaging”.
Meanwhile, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey claimed there had been a “witchhunt” of Mr Corbyn, a close ally of his.
“Keir seems to have disregarded process and stepped in with this extraordinary decision,” the trade union leader said on Thursday.
“It looks to me very much like a witchhunt and persecution of a decent man.
“People can disagree with Corbyn on a whole host of things, but I think most people regard him as a decent, honest individual.
“And to be persecuted and witchunted in this way is not the Labour Party way of doing things.
“I would appeal to Keir to try and resolve this, the British public do not like a divided party.”
Mr Corbyn had the Labour whip withdrawn, and was initially suspended from the party, after last month claiming “the scale of the problem” of Labour antisemitism allegations was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
He also said he did not accept all of the findings Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into Labour’s handling of antisemism cases under his leadership.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday and also provided to the party itself, Mr Corbyn said he wanted to “clear up any confusion about what I had meant”.
“I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it,” he said.
“To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.
“The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism.
“I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full and, in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the party move on, united against antisemitism which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.”
However, this clarifying statement did not offer an apology for, or retraction of, his remarks on the day of the EHRC report’s publication.
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