Ken Livingstone has denied his explosive comments about Adolf Hitler damaged Labour’s election results, and claimed German Jews did have a “relationship” with the Nazis.

The former London mayor, who was suspended from the party over the comments, instead blamed “far right” Labour MPs for stoking up division in the party and claimed they used the anti-Semitism row to attempt to damage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

His comments came after shadow chancellor John McDonnell admitted the row over anti-Semitism within Labour had set the party back, with big swings to the Tories leading to the losses of the Sedgley ward in Bury and the Eastwood constituency in Scotland, both of which have significant Jewish communities.

Mr Livingstone said last week that Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s “before he went mad” and killed six million Jews.

Questioned on the fallout from his comments, he told Sky News: “The simple fact is, so many people have gone on to the internet now, they have seen Joseph Finkelstein’s brilliant interview.

“A lot of people, it’s a shock to discover there had been that relationship between a small section of the Jewish community in Germany and Adolf Hitler but it’s historically true.

“And the simple reality of all of that is we shouldn’t be ashamed about some of the mistakes our government has made in the past and I don’t think the people of Israel, don’t need to be ashamed of what happened 80 years ago.”