Labour MP Chris Williamson has been suspended from the Labour party over his comments about the party's handling of anti-semitism, the party's spokesman stated. According to the spokesman, Williamson was suspended "pending investigation."
Earlier, Williamson has come under fire after stating that his party has become "too apologetic" on antisemitism, with Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson stating that the close Corbyn ally had been "deliberately inflammatory".
Luciana Berger, founding member of the Independent Group, slammed Mr. Williamson in a tweet, stating: "This is what I have left behind. It's toxic. Our country deserves so much better."
The seven Labour MPs who formed the Independent Group raised the issue of antisemitism in the Labour party and criticised Mr. Corbyn's handling of the crisis during their resignation speeches.
"I have got to say I think our party's response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic," he said. "We've done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party."
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) February 27, 2019
Williamson issued a public apology following the condemnation and offered to clarify his statements. "I deeply regret and apologise for my recent choice of words," Mr. Williamson wrote. "I was trying to suggest how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism."
It pained him greatly that it was his intention to minimise the "pernicious and cancerous nature of anti-semitism", Mr. Williamson tweeted, adding that Labour could "never be too apologetic about racism" in its party ranks.
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) February 27, 2019
"While it is true there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in Labour, something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue, it is also true that those few are too many."
He also said he would be more "considered" in his language the future, adding that he wanted to become "an ally" in the battle against anti-Semitism.
But Labour frontbencher Mr. Watson slammed Mr. Williamson's apology, calling it "long-winded" and "heavily caveated" apology. "It is not good enough. If it was in my gift I would have removed the whip from him already," Mr. Watson said.
Mr. Williamson has long been outspoken against the United Kingdom's foreign policy, most recently by tweeting his condemnation of Britain's ‘aid' to Venezuela, which he slammed as a ‘coup' and ‘economic warfare'.
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) February 23, 2019
The news on Williamson comes amid an ongoing scandal of antisemitism in the party, with Labour MPs being criticised for stating opinions on Israel. Former Liverpool City councillor Derek Hatton was readmitted to Labour on 19 Febrary, 30 years after being expelled for his affiliation with the Militant tendency.
Labour later expelled Mr. Hatton just two days after a 2012 tweet resurfaced where he criticised Jews for not speaking out against the state of Israel. "Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel!"