The already fractious landscape in British politics grew even more contentious on Monday when seven lawmakers staged what is being billed as a “dramatic” walkout from Britain’s opposition Labour Party. Their grievance: the party’s reaction to a series of anti-Semitism incidents and a “betrayal” on Brexit.
The Parliament members have claimed that the Labour party is racist, “had betrayed its working-class roots and was a threat to national security. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was not fit to become Prime Minister,” according to CNN.
“One of the seven, Luciana Berger, said she had become ashamed of the party she’d served as a Member of Parliament since 2010. It had become “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left,” CNN added.
The announcement “ripped open a long-simmering rift between socialists and centrists in the party, which sees itself as the representative of Britain’s working class,” according to The Sacramento Bee. “It’s also the latest fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which has split both of the country’s two main parties — Conservatives and Labour — into pro-Brexit and pro-EU camps.”
Many Labour lawmakers “have been unhappy with the party’s direction under leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who took charge in 2015 with strong grass-roots backing,” the Bee added. “They accuse Corbyn of mounting a weak opposition to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the EU, and of failing to stamp out a vein of anti-Semitism in the party.”
Corbyn’s position “is so unassailable that his would-be assailants hardly dare to criticize him,” noted The Guardian. “They grumble about Labour’s position on Brexit and agitate for the endorsement of a second referendum. They express horror at the way antisemitism has eaten into the party like gangrene and demand surgical intervention. But in public, the dissenters avoid pointing blame squarely at the leader or even at individuals in his entourage.”
Corbyn’s history of disdain for Jews is well known. In August 2015, during the Labour leadership election, London-based newspaper The Jewish Chronicle issued “seven questions regarding Corbyn’s record on antisemitism” on its front page, which, unless being answered immediately and in full, would result in Corbyn being “regarded from the day of his election as an enemy of Britain’s Jewish community.”
According to the paper, “Although there is no direct evidence that he has an issue himself with Jews, there is overwhelming evidence of his association with, support for — and even in one case, alleged funding of — Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites.”
The German newspaper Der Spiegel described Corbyn as a human rights activist whose “political career has been characterized by a consistent stance against racism and intolerance” but following incidents of antisemitism “has done little to stem the tide and has even made the problem worse at times”, dividing his supporters.
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