A former London mayor appears poised to rejoin the British Labour Party as his suspension for anti-Semitic remarks comes to end.
Labour penalized Ken Livingstone in April 2016, after he claimed that Adolf Hitler was initially a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”
With his two-year suspension set to end in April, Livingstone will again be considered a full member of the UK’s main opposition party barring the emergence of further offensive comments, Labour sources told The Observer on Saturday.
The prospect of Livingstone’s return to the party has raised consternation among some Labour lawmakers, with MP Wes Streeting saying it will cause “irreparable damage to the party’s standing and reputation.”
Echoing Streeting, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth told The Observer that Livingstone “continues to bring the party into disrepute” and “has no place in the party.”
The decision to suspend and not expel Livingstone was strongly criticized by Jewish groups at the time, and came as the party grappled with allegations that it has been lax on anti-Semitism under leader Jeremy Corbyn.
With his expected return to the party nearing, Livingstone told The Observer he would take legal steps against Labour if a decision was made to expel him. He also claimed his suspension was the result of “fake news.”
“I did not say Hitler was a Zionist,” Livingstone said. “And that was why I was suspended. That is just the problem of our fake news these days. It is all over the bloody world. But nobody bothers to check these days. They just repeat the crap.”
He also criticized the suspension, saying “you can’t expel someone for stating historical fact when you have done nothing about those Labour MPs screaming that I was a Nazi apologist and all that garbage.”
In addition to Livingstone, a number of other Labour figures have made anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist comments in recent years, leading to ongoing criticism of Corbyn for his handling of anti-Semitism in the party since he became its leader in 2015.
Corbyn, a longtime Israel critic who has referred to the Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups as “friends,” has denied his party has an anti-Semitism problem.