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Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge to be disciplined after allegedly branding Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn an ‘antisemite and a racist’

PUBLISHED: 16:15 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 18 July 2018

From left: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking. Pictures: PA

From left: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking. Pictures: PA

PA

The Labour MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge faces disciplinary action after allegedly branding Jeremy Corbyn an “antisemite”, a spokesman for the party leader said.

Dame Margaret challenged Mr Corbyn in the Commons after Labour’s ruling body adopted a new code of conduct on antisemitism denounced by many Jewish groups.

Reportedly using an expletive, the former minister, who is Jewish, called Mr Corbyn an “antisemite and a racist”, adding: “You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.”

Mr Corbyn was said to respond: “I’m sorry you feel like that.”

A spokesman for the Labour leader slated Dame Margaret’s remarks as “clearly unacceptable”. He declined to reveal in what form the action will take, but said it would follow Parliamentary Labour Party rules requiring MPs to behave in a “respectful” way towards colleagues and not “bring the party into disrepute”.

Mr Corbyn would not be a complainant in the case, he added.

“The behaviour was clearly unacceptable between colleagues,” said the spokesman.

“Jeremy’s door is always open to discussions with members of the PLP. Action will be taken.”

Dame Margaret, meanwhile, confirmed making the comments but denied swearing.

She declined to comment on the disciplinary action.

The tirade is the latest controversy in an ongoing dispute over the party’s attitude towards antisemitism, which is described as prejudice or discrimination towards Jews.

A string of Labour MPs have publicly condemned the party’s National Executive Committee for not including within the new code of conduct the full definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The NEC approved the code on Tuesday, only for members to reopen the policy citing the “serious concerns” voiced.

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman maintained that the party’s definition of examples of antisemitic behaviour shifted from the IRHA’s so it could be “used effectively for a political party”.

The code states that criticism of Israel and its policies should not automatically be regarded as antisemitic, and that “contentious” remarks on the matter “will not be treated as antisemitism unless accompanied by specific antisemitic content [...] or by other evidence of antisemitic intent”.

While the code endorses the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism and copies attitudes likely to be viewed as antisemitic verbatim, it does not include four examples from the IHRA’s own list.

The party insists these are still covered in the code.

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