A former chair of Labour Friends of Israel has resigned from the party while suspended on misconduct allegations and will now become an independent MP.
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who has been a vocal critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said he was leaving in part because “anti-Semitism is being tolerated” in the party, which he said had been taken over by the hard-left.
He was suspended earlier this year after allegations that he sent inappropriate messages to a female former aide, but denies the allegations. The case had been referred to the party’s National Constitutional Committee after an investigation.
Earlier this year, Woodcock accused Corbyn of “deliberately baiting the mainstream Jewish community” after the Labour leader held Passover with anti-occupation Jewish group Jewdas in his Islington constituency.
The MP was subsequently deluged by complaints after reports that he had said there were “good Jews and bad Jews,” which he denied making.
Woodcock led Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) until 2013, and until this week he was the LFI’s vice-chair. Most recently he urged International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt to review funding to the Palestinian Authority over concerns that the Palestinian curriculum was “teaching the virtues of martyrdom”.
My letter to Jeremy Corbyn resigning from the Labour Party. I will continue to serve the people of Barrow and Furness as an independent MP pic.twitter.com/8PJtgurK3X
— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) July 18, 2018
His resignation came just hours after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed to adopt a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism, whereby criticism of Israel will only be deemed anti-Semitic if it is accompanied by “anti-Semitic intent”.
Woodcock’s resignation letter blasted Corbyn, who he said would be “a clear risk to UK national security as prime minister,” and he complained that his disciplinary process “has been manipulated for factional purposes”.
He added: “Anti-Semitism is being tolerated and Labour has been taken over at nearly every level by the hard left, far beyond the dominance they achieved at the height of 1980s militancy.”