One of the MPs that nominated Jeremy Corbyn to contest the party leadership has said the left winger’s controversial comments on Hamas would have given him “pause for thought” about whether to put his name forward.
London Mayoral candidate Gareth Thomas said he had been unaware of the remarks when he helped the Islington MP reach the target of 35 nominating politicians needed to get on to the ballot paper – and they were an additional reason why he wouldn’t be voting for him.
Footage has emerged in recent weeks of Corbyn referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” during a speech in Parliament in 2009.
Pressed on the wording during a heated Channel 4 interview last week, the veteran MP said: “I’m saying that people I talk to, I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk.
“Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.”
Thomas, the MP for Harrow West, told the Jewish News, said he was “disappointed” at the language used “though not completely surprised”. He added: “I’ve always been clear we need a deal. But I don’t see Hamas as being serious about the prospect if such a deal.”
Another of the nominating MPs, who wished to remain anonymous, said they had regrets about their decision. But they insisted Corbyn had no chance of winning the leadership.
Though he insisted he wouldn’t be backing Corbyn in the final vote anyway as they differed on the reason for Labour’s General Election defeat.
Thomas added: “I don’t think we can turn our backs on the 4000 jobs a new runway at Heathrow offers and why a new relationship with the City of London is essential for a a mayor to promote. All of which I suspect are positions Jeremy doesn’t hold.”