Europe

Labour Politician Forced to Apologize after Alleging Israel Paid Party Members Who Quit

A politician from the British Labour Party was forced to apologize on Tuesday after she suggested a group of ex-Labour MPs, who quit the party in protest over anti-Semitism, may be secretly funded by the Israeli government, the BBC reported.

Ruth George, the MP for High Peak, alleged it was “possible” that the seven MPs, who left the Labour Party on Monday, were being sponsored by the state of Israel. In her comment on Facebook, George was backing up a local councilor who had been posting conspiracy theories about the defectors on social media.

Asked to comment on the split of the party, George said she would “condemn the calling of anyone as an Israeli when it is not the case” but suggested the councilor “appears not to refer to the independent MPs but to their financial backers.”

George added that “support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel of which Luciana [Berger] was chair is possible.”

The Labour official went on to say she “would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed. It is important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy.”

After facing harsh criticism, George withdrew the comment and said she had “no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory.” In a statement, the MP added she was “deeply sorry for her ill-thought out and poorly worded comment.”

Berger is a Jewish MP who cited the unwillingness of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to tackle anti-Semitism in the party as the reason for leaving the organization and to sit in parliament as an independent. Alongside Berger, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, and Angela Smith announced they would be breaking away from Labour.

Earlier this month, Berger was threatened with deselection from the party over her criticism of Corbyn.

On Tuesday night, the so-called Independent Group won the support of another official, when Joan Ryan, the Labour MP for Enfield North, announced she was also leaving the party. On Wednesday, three Conservative MPs decided to join the new “centrist” movement in opposition to the government’s Brexit policy.

Meanwhile, Corbyn has been warned that a 99-year-old group for Jewish Labour members, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), could soon begin the process to sever its ties to the party.

[Photo: Chris McAndrew / WikiCommons ]