No confidence motions in Luciana Berger withdrawn
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No confidence motions in Luciana Berger withdrawn

Source in Labour leader's office says it is the 'right decision' after plea from deputy leader Tom Watson

Luciana Berger
Luciana Berger

Moves to hold a vote of no confidence in Jewish Labour MP and Jeremy  Corbyn critic Luciana Berger have been withdrawn after a heated row in the party ranks.

Berger has been a prominent critic of Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism and his position on Brexit.

A source in the Leader of the Opposition’s office said the withdrawal of the no confidence motions was “the right decision”.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson had earlier intervened in the controversy to offer his support to Ms Berger in what he called her battle against “bullying hatred” from members of her local party.

He has written to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby calling for her to suspend Ms Berger’s constituency Labour party (CLP).

Formby took to Twitter to reply, saying: @I’m pleased that the motions to Wavertree CLP regarding Luciana Berger were withdrawn. At a time when she continues to experience appalling abuse it is right to stand in solidarity with her. For all those asking, there was no constitutional basis on which to suspend the CLP.”

The comments came after shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested the move to censure the MP was due to concern she may join a breakaway party, not over her attacks on Mr Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism.

Watson told the Commons that Ms Berger had his “solidarity” in the showdown with her local party.

Berger, who is Jewish, has been highly critical of Mr Corbyn over how he has dealt with the issue of antisemitism.

A number of senior Labour MPs rallied behind Ms Berger after the Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party called an extraordinary meeting for February 17 to discuss two no-confidence motions.

Both have now been withdrawn, a senior Labour source said.

Mr Watson said: “Let us not forget our honourable colleagues on both sides of this House, the subject of death threats, the subject of racist abuse, the subject of misogynistic abuse, the subject of bullying and antisemitism.

“As deputy leader of my party let me say to the honourable colleagues facing that abuse and in particular my friend and comrade the member of Liverpool Wavertree (Ms Berger) that she has our solidarity and she has our support as she battles the bullying hatred from members of her own local party.

“They bring disgrace to the party that I love.”

In his letter to Ms Formby calling for the CLP to be suspended he said its behaviour has been “intolerable”.

Earlier, Mr McDonnell called on Ms Berger to make clear she is not planning to “jump ship”.

The shadow chancellor told Sky News: “My advice really, on all of this, is for Luciana to just put this issue to bed.

“Say very clearly ‘no, I’m not supporting another party, I’m not jumping ship’.”

The shadow chancellor’s comments drew direct criticism from some Labour MPs, while she received support from others, such as Dame Margaret Hodge, Ed Miliband and Ian Austin.

Ms Berger’s stance on antisemitism has seen her face a torrent of abuse from online trolls and she required a police escort at last year’s Labour Party conference after receiving death threats.

The move against Ms Berger comes after she joined other MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday in calling for details on the party’s efforts to tackle antisemitism to be released.

Earlier on Friday, it was revealed that the Labour member who proposed a no-confidence vote in Luciana Berger has previously called the MP a “disruptive Zionist” and peddled outrageous conspiracy theories online.

Kenneth Campbell was among the two members to propose the second motion. He has a history of sharing problematic material on Facebook, including one post labelling Berger a “disruptive zionist”, in which he adds: “our cat is more of a socialist than her”.

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