Two senior Labour figures have clashed over antisemitism in a shadow cabinet meeting when discussion turned to Jewish MP Luciana Berger and two aborted attempts to pass a motion of no-confidence in her.
Party chairman Ian Lavery and Deputy Leader Tom Watson confronted each other in the angry Tuesday meeting, in a sign that Jeremy Corbyn’s top team are at odds over the party’s approach to the Liverpool Wavertree MP.
Sources told the PoliticsHome news site that Lavery blasted Watson for the deputy leader’s public calls for Wavertree’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to be censured, with Watson refusing to be “shouted down”.
Watson had been reacting to the no-confidence motions, brought by members angry that Berger has repeatedly condemned Labour and Corbyn over antisemitism. Watson said the motions, now withdrawn, had been an attempt to “bully” Berger.
Berger had earlier demanded that the Party release details regarding the number of complaints, investigations, suspensions and expulsions it had received and enacted for members alleged to have made antisemitic comments.
Together with fellow Labour MPs such as Wes Streeting, John Mann and Ruth Smeeth, Berger handed a letter to Corbyn outlining her concerns.
Lavery and Watson were reportedly joined in the “heated” debate by Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner and Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, with Corbyn in the room.