June 25, 2020 / 2:31 PM / 20 days ago

UK Labour Party sacks senior team member in anti-Semitism row

FILE PHOTO: Labour's shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey looks at Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice, next to former Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas during a general election debate in Cardiff, Britain November 29, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - The new leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, sacked a senior member of his policy team on Thursday after she shared an article which included a reference to what he called an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”.

Starmer, who won election as the party’s leader earlier this year, said education policy spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey had been wrong to share the article.

The 57 year-old barrister has pledged to stamp out anti-Semitism in Labour after his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights, was repeatedly criticised for failing to do so.

“The sharing of that article was wrong because the article contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” he said. “I’ve made it my first priority to tackle anti-Semitism and rebuilding trust from the Jewish community is a number one priority for me.”

Long-Bailey, a Corbyn ally who came second to Starmer in the leadership race, said by sharing the article on Twitter, she was not endorsing “every part of the article” and that she had issued a clarification, which had been agreed with the party, after being made aware of people’s concerns.

“I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision,” she said, adding she would continue to support the party in parliament under Starmer’s leadership.

Reporting by William James and Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Paul Sandle and Jon Boyle

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