Labour has “failed” to address the issue of antisemitism and there should be more “tolerance” of differing views at the top of the party, a leading MP has said.
John Cryer, who is chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, claimed antisemites still weren’t being removed with many cases dragging “on and on”.
The Leyton and Wanstead MP also claimed the ongoing investigation into Labour’s handling of antisemitism allegations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission was “pretty embarrassing”.
And he revealed there is “a lot of worry” about attempts to de-select Labour MPs.
Mr Cryer’s own pregnant wife, fellow Labour MP Ellie Reeves, has recently been at the centre of a deselection row.
It emerged last week that a local activist wanted her to face a “trigger ballot”, which could see her replaced as Labour’s candidate in her Lewisham West and Penge constituency for the next general election.
The action stemmed from Ms Reeves’ decision to put her name to a statement criticising the re-admittance of Chris Williamson MP to Labour.
Mr Williamson subsequently lost the whip again amid the controversy about his re-admittance, having first been suspended in February for claiming Labour had “given too much ground” on the issue of antisemitism.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, Mr Cryer said: “We’ve failed to address antisemitism.
“The bottom line is, are we kicking people out of the party who are anti-Semitic? In some cases yes we are, but in some cases no.
“If you’re a racist, you shouldn’t be in the Labour Party.”
Mr Cryer claimed in some antisemitism cases, party members “get a suspension but then the case just drags on and on, and it’s those cases where we need to act much more quickly”.
With Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn coming under increasing pressure for the party to take an explicitly pro-Remain position on Brexit, Mr Cryer revealed his expectation the party would wholeheartedly back a second EU referendum.
He said: “I’d rather see us go for a second referendum rather than just heading out of the exit on the basis of no deal,” he said.
“I think we’re moving onto a territory where we’re going to end up supporting a second referendum as a point of policy and principle.”
Mr Cryer also called for “tolerance at the top of the party”, adding: “I think he [Mr Corbyn] personally is [tolerant], but perhaps there are people around who take a less tolerant point of view.
“But across the party, whether you’re elected or not elected, you’ve got to have a tolerance for people with different views.”
He continued: “If it is the case that people are going to be driven out on the basis of differences of opinion then it’s not going to be the Labour Party that I’ve always known.”