A Labour MP claimed yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn ‘did all he could’ to defend his close ally Chris Williamson before his suspension.
Siobhain McDonagh said the Labour leader tried to ‘personally defend’ Mr Williamson – while a party source suggested he had asked chief whip Nick Brown not to remove him.
Labour has furiously denied that Mr Corbyn played any personal role in initially preventing the whip being removed from the firebrand MP after he was filmed telling a meeting the party had been ‘too apologetic’ about anti-Semitism. But yesterday, the source said Mr Brown had implied the decision had been ‘taken out of his hands’.
A Labour MP claimed yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn ‘did all he could’ to defend his close ally Chris Williamson (right) before his suspension
This would mean the suspension was a matter for the office of Mr Corbyn or the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby, they added.
Miss McDonagh, who is rumoured to be considering leaving the party, told HuffPost UK: ‘I welcome Chris Williamson’s suspension pending investigation for acts of anti-Jewish racism.
‘No amount of mealy-mouthed apologies could justify his actions at the Sheffield Momentum event last week.
Siobhain McDonagh (above) said the Labour leader tried to ‘personally defend’ Mr Williamson – while a party source suggested he had asked chief whip Nick Brown not to remove him
‘How could we apologise too much for acts of anti-Jewish racism in our party? Jeremy did all he could to personally defend him but he could not maintain his support in the face of universal demands for his suspension.’
The row erupted on Wednesday after footage of Mr Williamson’s comments at the Momentum meeting in Sheffield was released by the Yorkshire Post newspaper.
It prompted an immediate outcry from moderate Labour MPs, including the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who demanded the hard-Left MP be suspended.
Mr Williamson was then seen heading into the leader’s office before issuing an apology at around midday, saying he ‘regretted’ his choice of words. At a briefing just after 1.30pm, Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said Mr Williamson had been issued with a ‘notice of investigation’.
However, the spokesman said the MP would not be suspended while the investigation took place, triggering further anger. Labour’s Parliamentary Committee then met and agreed unanimously that Mr Williamson should be suspended.
At 5pm the party finally announced Mr Williamson had been suspended.
Miss McDonagh, who is rumoured to be considering leaving the party, told HuffPost UK: ‘I welcome Chris Williamson’s suspension pending investigation for acts of anti-Jewish racism'
Around the same time, a letter from 38 Labour MPs was sent to Miss Formby calling for the whip to be withdrawn from the MP, although Labour deny this was the prompt.
The party insists Mr Corbyn was not personally involved in the decision to suspend Mr Williamson, although it has not denied that the leader’s office played a role.
Yesterday, a Labour source said chief whip Mr Brown had implied that he had not been involved in the decision. They added: ‘Suspension is a matter for the leader’s office, the general secretary or the chief whip.
‘Nick Brown implied the Chris Williamson decision had been taken out of his hands. He didn’t say it in so many words, but it was suggested.’
Labour denied that Mr Corbyn spoke to Mr Brown.
But a Shadow Cabinet source told The Independent: ‘This decision was taken off Nick Brown and taken by the general secretary and the leader’s office.’ And BBC Newsnight reported that Mr Corbyn was ‘heavily involved’ in the initial decision.
Last night a Labour spokesman said it was ‘categorically untrue’ to suggest that Mr Corbyn himself had intervened in the case.
They added: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is not