A lawmaker for Britain’s Labour Party was questioned by police after he called Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom a “tosser,” the Daily Mail reported Sunday.
The incident occurred last week at a Labour Friends of Israel event held during the annual party conference in Liverpool, attended by Ambassador Mark Regev.
Graham Jones, who is MP for Hyndburn and a vocal critic of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, was overheard muttering the word “tosser,” a mild British insult, by one of Corbyn’s aides. Ironically, the aide only referred the incident to police because she thought Jones was directing his insult at her, rather than Regev, the Mail reported.
The aide and Jones were seen arguing, the paper reported, before police intervened.
Jones, who is a member of Labour Friends of Palestine, reportedly muttered the insult as Regev was about to begin his speech.
The MP refused to comment on the incident, but a friend detailed the incident to the Mail.
“This woman tapped him on the shoulder to complain he had insulted her but he was talking about Regev,” he said. “Graham may be no fan of Corbyn but he’s a longstanding critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and he’s crossed swords with Regev before.”
During his speech, Regev offered veiled criticism of Corbyn, who has been accused of a number of anti-Semitic incidents over the summer, for his strong anti-Israel stance.
????From Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan and Foot, to Kinnock, Blair and Brown: @UKLabour???? leaders have supported Israel’s cause, precisely because Zionism is an anti-racist cause.
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) September 25, 2018
“From Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan and Foot, to Kinnock, Blair and Brown; Labour leaders have supported Israel’s cause precisely because it (Zionism) is an anti-racist cause,” Regev said.
A source told the Mail that the party had rebuked Jones for his comment.
“It is inappropriate for an MP to use this kind of language about anyone,” he said.
Merseyside police said no charges were filed against the MP.
Other sources told the Mail that Corbyn had sent “spies” to the Friends of Israel meeting to see which members attended the event. A Labour source denied this claim.
Last week, Corbyn insisted he was not an anti-Semite, but refused to apologize for a series of incidents involving him and other party members that have drawn accusations of rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
In an interview with BBC host Andrew Marr ahead of the party’s annual conference, Corbyn defended his own conduct and his handling of some of the scandals that have rocked the opposition party in recent months.
When asked by Marr if he wanted to “express personal remorse” over the ongoing crisis, Corbyn responded: “I’ll simply say this, I am an anti-racist and I’ll die an anti-racist. Anti-Semitism is a scourge in any society. I have opposed it all my life and I will continue to oppose it all my life.”
Corbyn insisted to Marr that he was “absolutely” not anti-Semitic, while defending a remark he made about British Zionists not understanding irony, his attendance at a memorial for Palestinian terrorists, and Labour’s reluctance to fully adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism.
While allegations of anti-Semitism have dogged Corbyn since he became Labour leader three years ago, the furor has reached fever pitch since March.
The crisis over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has caused a major schism within its ranks and led Jews to express fears over their future in the country.
Almost 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Corbyn became prime minister, according to a recent poll conducted for The Jewish Chronicle.