Britain’s Labour Party on Wednesday suspended one of its lawmakers after he suggested the party had apologized too much about anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Chris Williamson, member of parliament for Derby North and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, will face an investigation after he said the party had been “too apologetic” to people complaining about anti-Semitism within the party.
“Chris Williamson is suspended from the party, and therefore the whip, pending investigation,” a Labour Party spokesman said.
On Tuesday, Williamson was severely criticized by fellow MPs for his remarks, which he made to the hard-left Momentum faction. He swiftly apologized but the party later decided to suspend him.
Thirty-eight Labour MPs wrote to party general secretary Jennie Formby demanding Williamson be suspended.
His “actions have brought the party into disrepute and his behavior must be investigated and dealt with,” the letter read.
A video of Williamson’s speech published by The Yorkshire Post in the city of Sheffield showed the audience applauding him.
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonized as a racist, bigoted party,” Williamson said in the footage.
WATCH: Chris Williamson tells a Sheffield Momentum meeting that Labour has been "too apologetic" about anti-Semitism… pic.twitter.com/zxtKdHQPvw
— Liz Bates (@wizbates) February 26, 2019
Williamson later issued a statement in which he said he was “sorry for how I chose to express myself on this issue,” and that he was “trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.”
“Our movement can never be ‘too apologetic’ about racism within our ranks,” the Labour Party said in a statement.
Williamson’s comments came as Labour lawmakers reportedly flagged social media posts from members accusing Jews of murdering children and questioning whether Jewish parliamentarians have “human blood.”
MP Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said he received 50 complaints of anti-Semitism last week from Labour colleagues, and called on Corbyn to personally take them before the party’s top governing body.
Labour has been rocked by charges of anti-Semitism in its ranks since the hard-left Corbyn became leader of the opposition in 2015, with Corbyn himself also facing such accusations — which he has denied.
Williamson has long claimed that allegations of anti-Semitism in the party are part of a right-wing plot aimed at discrediting Corbyn and has called them “positively sinister.”
The fresh controversy followed countless recent revelations involving the embattled party, under fire for what many see as a failure to address anti-Semitism within its ranks.
Last December Williamson apologized for a tweet in support of Gilad Atzmon, a musician his own party has in the past called “a vile anti-Semite,” the BBC reported.
Nine Labour MPs have quit the party in recent days, with many of them citing anti-Semitism within the party as the reason.