Labour MP Ruth George has apologised “wholeheartedly and unreservedly” for suggesting the Independent Group could be funded by the state of Israel.
George said: “I unreservedly and wholeheartedly apologise for my comment. I had no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory and I am deeply sorry that my ill-thought out and poorly worded comment did this. I withdraw it completely.”
George made the comments in response to a question about Nick Longos, a local Labour councillor who came under fire after he ‘loved’ a Facebook post describing the members of the Independent Group as “Israelis.”
When asked about the councillor, George said in a Facebook comment that it was “possible” the group might be funded by Israel.
The MP for High Peak wrote: “I would condemn the calling of anyone as an Israeli when it’s not the case.
“The comment appears not to refer to the independent MPs but to their financial backers.
“Support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel’ of which Luciana was chair is possible.
“And I would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed.
“It’s important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy.”
This comes after seven ex-Labour MPs resigned from the party on Monday, citing the party’s direction, as well as Jeremy Corbyn’s inaction on antisemitism and his policies on Brexit.
The Board of Deputies said on Twitter: “What on earth does Ruth George MP think she is saying?
“That the departure of seven previously Labour MPs could be funded by Israel? Jews are rightly concerned when elected representatives start indulging conspiracy theories and tropes.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “It’s right that Ruth George has apologised for these offensive remarks. The Whips Office is reminding Ruth George of the conduct expected of her.”
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