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UK Labour lawmaker

Jewish ex-MP Luciana Berger rejoins UK Labour

Berger, 41, resigned from Labour in 2019 under former leader Jeremy Corbyn, whom she accused of not doing enough to stamp out institutional antisemitism in the party.

Luciana Berger at a press conference in February 2019. 
Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Luciana Berger at a press conference in February 2019. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Prominent former UK Labour lawmaker Luciana Berger, who left the party over antisemitism, will return to the opposition party at the invitation of its leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

Berger tweeted late last month that “the Labour Party has turned a significant corner under Keir’s leadership”.

“I’m pleased to be returning to my political home,” she wrote.

Berger, 41, resigned from Labour in 2019 under former leader Jeremy Corbyn, whom she accused of not doing enough to stamp out institutional antisemitism in the party.

In her response to Starmer’s invitation to return, Berger wrote that Labour “fell into the depths of the abyss under Jeremy Corbyn’s reign”.

“I never expected to bear witness to the volume and toxicity of anti-Jewish racism espoused by people who had been allowed to join Labour, and to experience a leadership that treated antisemitism within the party’s ranks differently to every other kind of racism – and that by refusing to condemn it, encouraged it,” she wrote. “But that is exactly what happened.”

Starmer took over as Labour leader in 2020 after Corbyn stepped down following the party’s defeat in elections.

He shared the letter that he had sent to Berger, tweeting, “My test for change was whether those who were rightly appalled by how far we had fallen believe this is their party again.”

“You left because you were forced out by intimidation, thuggery and racism,” Starmer said in the letter. “Yours was a principled and brave move. But it was one you should never have been forced to take. That day will forever be a stain on Labour’s history.”

The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2020 found Labour guilty of unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

Corbyn rejected some of the findings, leading to him being suspended from the party.

In her letter to Starmer, Berger said that she was “pleased” that under Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party had received a clean bill of health from the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

Prior to quitting, Berger, who had served as the director of Labour Friends of Israel, faced a no confidence vote, later cancelled, by local party members who said she was “continuously criticising” Corbyn amid the ongoing row over antisemitism. Someone called her a “disruptive Zionist”.

Starmer has said Corbyn will not be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate at the next election.

TIMES OF ISRAEL, JTA

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