UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has admitted he ordered his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn's suspension — not the party's administrative chief.
Speaking on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show on Tuesday morning, Starmer contradicted his public statements last October that Labour General Secretary David Evans had taken the decision after "consulting" the parliamentary leader.
“I’ve said that I am going to tackle anti-Semitism and root it out in my party, and that’s what I’ve been doing, taking necessary action", Starmer said. "And it was Jeremy’s response to a report that we had into the Labour Party on anti-Semitism that caused me to take that action”.
Left-winger Corbyn was suspended last October from the party he had led for five years and had the parliamentary whip withdrawn over his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report into claims by the recently-formed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism of animus against Jews within the party.
While acknowledging incidents of anti-Semitism had occurred, Corbyn said “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
Left-wing website Novara Media founder Aaron Bastani seized on Starmer's comments, accusing him of a "profound inability to be honest".
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) March 8, 2021
Following Corbyn's suspension, Starmer claimed he was not trying to provoke a "civil war" in Labour even as super-union Unite General Secretary Len McClusky warned it would "split" the party. But Evans took disciplinary action against branch officials who criticised the move.
Labour is trailing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party by 13 points in the latest YouGov poll, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and problems with the post-Brexit trade deal.
— YouGov (@YouGov) March 4, 2021