Labour MP faces no-confidence vote for criticizing party on anti-Semitism

Labour MP faces no-confidence vote for criticizing party on anti-Semitism

Ellie Reeves part of a group that called for whip to be taken away from MP who said party is ‘too apologetic’ to Jews

Ellie Reeves MP addresses the House of Parliament in London on 14 July 2017 (screen grab)
Ellie Reeves MP addresses the House of Parliament in London on 14 July 2017 (screen grab)

An MP is facing deselection for signing a statement criticizing the UK Labour party’s decision to readmit a lawmaker who was suspended over anti-Semitism allegations, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

Ellie Reeves, who is 22 weeks pregnant, was one of 121 MPs and members of the House of Lords who called on opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to take away the whip from Chris Williamson MP.

The Labour Party last week reportedly reimposed Williamson’s suspension two days after it was lifted, amid an ongoing furor over the party’s handling of complaints of anti-Semitism.

Chris Williamson, a Corbyn ally, was filmed in February telling a meeting that the party was “too apologetic” and had “given too much ground” in its response to anti-Semitism allegations.

Labour lawmaker Chris Williamson, seen in 2018, was suspended by the party in February. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images via JTA)

The chairman of Reeves’ constituency of Lewisham West and Penge has received notice from a party member who requested a motion of no confidence in the lawmaker, the Guardian reported.

According to the PoliticsHome website, the email said: “I would like to put forward a motion of no confidence in Ellie Reeves our MP for signing Tom Watson MP letter regarding Chris Williamson MP at our next meeting and also start the new trigger process to deselect our MP which you should have received from Jennie Formby.”

Deputy leader Tom Watson posted a statement signed by 90 Labour lawmakers on Twitter last week, calling on Corbyn to “show leadership by asking for this inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging decision to be overturned and reviewed.”

The signatories, among whom were MPs and peers, said they felt “hurt and anger” over the decision and raised questions about “the fairness of the process.”

“It is clear to us that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance on political interference. This must stop. We need a truly independent process,” the letter stated.

It also said the case was “particularly important” due to the ongoing investigation into anti-Semitism in Labour by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, a government watchdog that is looking into thousands of cases of anti-Semitic hate speech in the party’s ranks since 2015.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, talks with deputy leader Tom Watson, during the start of the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, England, September 23, 2018. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

“Ultimately, it is for Jeremy Corbyn to decide whether Chris Williamson retains the Labour whip. He must remove it immediately if we are to stand any hope of persuading anyone that the Labour Party is taking antisemitism seriously,” the letter said.

Watson responded to the threat of Reeves’ deselection by slamming party members who are “trying to bully another pregnant MP out of the Party.”

Jewish MP Luciana Berger left the party in February while pregnant, calling it “institutionally anti-Semitic.” Prior to quitting Labour, Berger faced a no confidence vote, later canceled, by local party members who said she was “continuously criticizing” Corbyn amid the ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the party.

Williamson’s suspension was reimposed after a member of the panel that allowed his return to the party, Keith Vaz MP, said he felt the decision should be reconsidered.

Former Foreign Office Minister Keith Vaz leaves a journalists’ briefing at the House of Commons in London, Feb. 8, 2002 (AP Photo/POOL)

Following Vaz’s comments, the Labour general secretary, Formby, told the party’s national executive that Williamson’s case would be on the agenda for the next meeting of its disputes committee, the Guardian reported.

“Subsequently, the whip is not restored as the decision is still pending,” a source told the BBC.

Williamson, an MP from Derby North, tweeted on Friday that he is “naturally concerned by the lack of due process and consistency in how my case is being handled.”

Labour has been split apart by claims that the party has become hostile to Jews under the far-left Corbyn, a harsh Israel critic and longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Corbyn told reporters he was not involved in Williamson’s reinstatement and defended the party’s handling of anti-Semitism, saying Labour takes the issue “very, very seriously.”

“Anyone that makes anti-Semitic remarks can expect to be at the very least reprimanded and, if they are very serious and they engage in antisemitic activity, then they are expelled from the party,” he was quoted as saying by Sky.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns for Lisa Forbes in Peterborough, England, on June 1, 2019. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

Since his election in 2015 to head Labour, Corbyn has fought allegations that his critical attitude toward Israel and alleged tolerance of anti-Semitism have injected Jew-hatred into the heart of the party.

In 2009, Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and said that Hamas is working to achieve peace and justice. In 2013, he defended an anti-Semitic mural. In 2014, he laid flowers on the graves of Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. The following year he said British “Zionists” don’t understand British irony.

Williamson in February booked a room in Parliament for a screening of a film by activist Jackie Walker titled “Witch Hunt” about her suspension from Labour over anti-Semitism.

Earlier that month, nine lawmakers quit the party, criticizing the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism. One of them, Luciana Berger, tweeted in response to Williamson’s words, saying “This is what I have left behind. It’s toxic.”

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