Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May trade blows over racism in their parties

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Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May trade blows over racism in their parties

The pair clashed in the House of Commons over antisemitism and Islamophobia

Theresa May at PMQs
Theresa May at PMQs

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have traded blows on allegations of racism within their parties during Prime Minister’s Questions, both demanding apologies.

Corbyn opened PMQs yesterday by launching an attack on May’s record on climate change, but the PM switched to criticise Labour over its handling of antisemitism cases.

“There is an issue that needs to be addressed in this House, and before [Corbyn] stands up and parades himself as the champion of climate change or the champion of the people or the defender of equality and fairness, he needs to apologise for his failure to deal with racism in the Labour Party,” she said.

Urging Corbyn to “apologise now”, she held up a newspaper advertisement, telling MPs: “Just today, 60 distinguished members of the Labour Party have written in the newspapers ‘the Labour Party welcomes everyone … except, it seems, Jews.’

“This is your legacy Mr Corbyn. You still haven’t opened your eyes. You still haven’t told the whole truth. You still haven’t accepted your responsibility. You have failed the test of leadership’.

Corbyn replied, defending Labour’s record opposing racism, saying: “This party was the first to introduce anti-racist legislation into law in Britain. This party totally opposes racism in any form whatsoever.

“Antisemitism has no place in our society, no place in any of our parties, and no place in any of our dialogue. Neither does any other form of racism.

“And when 60 percent of Tory Party members think Islam is a threat to Western civilisation, and the Prime Minister has said she will act on Islamophobia within her own party, I hope she does.”

May replied: “[Corbyn] I note did not apologise in response to my first question.

“We deal with Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, any allegations of Islamophobia are dealt with – unlike his way in the Labour Party where he is failing to deal with antisemitism.

“And he can stand up and say all he likes about the Labour Party introducing anti-racism legislation.

“Just last week, Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the following: ‘Labour today presents like a textbook case of institutional racism’.”

Corbyn repeated his party’s opposition to racism, adding: “Coming from a Prime Minister who encouraged the hostile environment, sent ‘go home’ vans around London and deported British citizens – which she’s now had to compensate them for – I think she might look to her own party and own Government’s records as well.”

After Corbyn raised further issues on climate change, May said: “Still no apology, I note.”

May warned she would not take “any lectures” from Labour on the issue. “He talks about dodging responsibility – the person who has been dodging his responsibility during this PMQs is (Corbyn),” she said.

“The real disgrace is his handling of racism in the Labour Party,” she added. “Activists protesting, MPs leaving, staff resigning.”

“What would his great heroes of Attlee, Bevan and Benn think,” she added. “Look what he has done to their party, we will never let him do it to our country.”

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