Sir Keir Starmer is facing calls to dismiss Diane Abbott from Labour after she stirred outrage with assertions that Jewish people are not subjected to prejudice.
The senior MP was stripped of the whip yesterday as a result of her letter to The Observer newspaper, which means she will now sit as an independent MP in the Commons, with a Labour spokesman calling her remarks “deeply offensive and wrong”.
However, the Labour leader, who has taken a harsh position on antisemitism in order to move the party forward from his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, is facing calls to go even farther and permanently expel the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP from the party.
Ms Abbott, who served as Mr Corbyn’s shadow home secretary, would be barred from running for Labour in the next general election.
Ms Abbott said in her letter that Jews face discrimination akin to that of persons with red hair and are not subjected to racism “their entire lives.”
In her letter, Ms Abbott – who made history as the first black woman MP – responded to a comment piece which suggested that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from racism in the UK.
She said: “Tomiwa Owolade claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from ‘racism’.
“They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.”
She went on: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. But they are not all their lives subject to racism.
“In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote.
“And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”
Following a backlash, she apologised, blaming the letter’s “initial draft” status. However, a shadow minister stated, “There is surely no way back for her, it’s time to kick her out for good.”