Luciana Berger rejoins Labour Party after antisemitism apology
Luciana Berger is rejoining the Labour Party after resigning in protest at the handling of antisemitism allegations four years ago. She was one of several MPs to leave Labour in the spring 2019, saying she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.
Ms Berger has now accepted an apology from Sir Keir Starmer, who said there had been a “litany of failures”. The former Liverpool Wavertree MP said the party had now “turned a significant corner” under Sir Keir’s leadership.
She added: “I’m pleased to be returning to my political home.” Ms Berger formed The Independent Group with several other Labour and Conservative MPs when she left her party, saying there had been a “sea of cases” of antisemitism and that complaints had been brushed under the carpet.
She later joined the Liberal Democrats and was chosen to contest the seat of Finchley and Golders Green, but failed to win the vote. Sir Keir said he was “delighted” Ms Berger had accepted his invitation to rejoin the party, writing on Twitter: “My test for change was whether those who were rightly appalled by how far we had fallen believe this is their party again. I know we’ve more to do but we’re unrecognisable from the party that forced her out.”
He shared letters the pair had exchanged, in which Ms Berger spoke of the “grim journey” from 2015 to 2019 “during which the party fell into the depths of the abyss under Jeremy Corbyn’s reign”.
She said she felt she had no choice other than to leave, writing: “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. But that is exactly what happened.”
In his letter, Sir Keir said Ms Berger had been “forced out by intimidation, thuggery and racism” and had made a “brave move” – albeit one she “should never have been forced to take”.
“That day will forever be a stain on Labour’s history,” he added. Sir Keir said she had suffered abuse and was left “isolated and exposed”, adding the party and British politics were “poorer places” without her.
A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2020 said there had been “a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it”. It found Labour had broken equality law over its handling of antisemitism complaints.
Former leader Jeremy Corbyn rejected some of the findings, saying the issue had been “dramatically overstated” by his critics. He insisted there was no place for antisemitism in Labour, but was suspended from the party by Labour’s headquarters. Sir Keir said the findings of the EHRC investigation were “hard to read”, adding that it had been “a day of shame for the Labour Party”.
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