The shadow minister who expressed “regret” last year after footage emerged of him describing Zionism as “the enemy of peace” has thrown his hat into the ring for Labour’s deputy leader role.
Richard Burgon announced his bid on Tuesday for the senior position previously held by former Labour MP Tom Watson, who stood down before the general election.
Burgon came under criticism last year after footage emerged of him saying in 2014 before he was elected as MP for Leeds East that “the enemy of the Palestinian people is not the Jewish people, the enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.”
“We need to be loud, we need to be proud in support of a free Palestine,” he can be heard saying in the clip.
Burgon initially denied making the remark after being challenged by the BBC’s Andrew Neil during an interview in 2018. But the MP was forced to admit doing so, after the investigative reporter Iggy Ostanin uncovered footage of the moment last year.
Burgon said he regretted making the comments. “As I have subsequently said on numerous occasions when asked about this, I do not agree with that phrase,” he said last year.
“I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law,” he added.
The clip drew condemnations from Jewish leaders, with Amanda Bowman, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, calling the remarks “shameful.”
In an article for Tribute, the shadow justice minister praised Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign efforts, saying “nobody campaigned with greater energy, resilience and principle” than him.
But he urged the shadow cabinet to “accept responsibility” for the election results which saw Labour’s worst electoral performance since 1935.