Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey after she shared an article containing an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
The Labour leader asked his former leadership rival to stand down as Shadow Education Secretary, showing his zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.
A spokesman for the Labour leader said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet.
“The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
“As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority.
“Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
Maxine Peake article
Long-Bailey was called out for sharing an interview with actress Maxine Peake, commenting: “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond.”
In the article Ms Peake said the police who killed George Floyd in America had learned their techniques from the Israeli secret service.
Israel’s police service denied this and said there was no protocol which involved placing pressure on the neck or airways.
Ms Long-Bailey later said: “I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”
I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article. https://t.co/3k6P3hcCgJ— Rebecca Long-Bailey (@RLong_Bailey) June 25, 2020
Stamping out anti-Semitism in the party
Starmer apologised to the Jewish community for anti-Semitism in the party when he was first elected earlier this year and promised to “tear out this poison by its roots”.
In a victory speech posted online, Sir Keir said: “We have to face the future with honesty.
“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party.
“I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities.
“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.
“And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.
“The Labour Party is an incredible and powerful force for good.
“Together with those that went before us we’ve changed the lives of millions of people for the better.”
Britain’s Chief Rabbi has welcomed the commitment from Starmer.
Ephraim Mirvis, who sharply criticised Jeremy Corbyn over what he said was his failure to tackle the issue, said it was “heartening” that the task of rebuilding trust with the Jewish community had begun.
Sir Keir offered his solidarity in a personal call to Mr Mirvis to mark Yom Hashoah, when Israel commemorates the victims of the Holocaust.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Mirvis said: “I welcomed hearing directly of his commitment to take the necessary action to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party as a top priority.
“It is heartening that the task of rebuilding the Jewish community’s trust in the Labour Party has begun.”