Labour has sought to head off a fresh antisemitism storm by suspending the party whip from Diane Abbott, after the former shadow home secretary played down suggestions of racism against Jewish people.
In comments that were swiftly condemned by senior Conservatives and faith groups, the MP argued that minority groups – such as Jewish people and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people – faced similar levels of prejudice to people with red hair.
Hours after her remarks about how “white people with points of difference” are discriminated against in society were published, Abbott apologised and claimed they were made in error. She claimed an “initial draft” of her thoughts had been sent for publication by accident, but still faced swift action by Labour whips who suspended the party whip and launched an investigation.
The move will leave Abbott sitting in parliament as an independent MP, alongside her close ally Jeremy Corbyn, who had the whip removed in 2020 over his response to the equalities watchdog’s report on antisemitism in the party.