Jeremy Corbyn has hit back at Labour peer Lord Levy for “not listening” after Tony Blair’s former fundraiser condemned the party leadership for not issuing a “clear unequivocal statement” against anti-Semitism.
Corbyn, who won the party leadership by a landslide last year, was speaking on Sky News on Monday when asked about Levy’s comments about anti-Semitism, during which he threatened to resign.
For days, questions have engulfed the party over its stance towards anti-Semitism, following the expulsion of two members for anti-Semitic remarks and allegations of anti-Semitism at the Oxford Union Labour Club.
Corbyn has been urged by several MPs, and Levy added: “It is now up to the leadership to make sure that there is a clear and unequivocal message out there that anti-Semitism in any form will not be tolerated within the Labour Party.”
However, an angry Corbyn countered: “Lord Levy clearly hasn’t been listening to the seven times since I became leader I’ve absolutely condemned anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, any form of racism. It is absolutely something I totally passionately believe in and I’m disappointed that Lord Levy has made these remarks.”
Levy urged a “categoric and specific statement” condemning anti-Semitism, and said he would “question my being a Labour peer if they don’t make that clear”.
On Levy, Corbyn said: “He knows full well what my views are. He knows full well what the views of the Labour Party are. He knows full well the kind of decent inclusive society that we all want to live in… I look forward to having that discussion with him.”
Levy earlier distanced himself from comments by Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, who said Corbyn’s leadership had put Jews’ relationship with the party under “deep strain”, in part because of the “excess” of the leadership, adding: “Frankly most people in the Jewish community can’t trust Labour.”
When asked about those comments, Levy said: “That’s for him to say. One needs to look historically. In the years when I was very deeply involved with Tony Blair, I think this is a party that was very trusted and very loved by the Jewish community.”
Speaking to Jewish News, Lord Michael Levy said: “I look forward to taking up Jeremy Corbyn’s offer of having a discussion with him and will arrange a meeting with him.”