08 February 2019 15:30
A Labour MP has accused John McDonnell of "letting his allies go after" Luciana Berger after a row erupted over her future in the party. Ms Berger is facing a vote of no confidence from local members for criticising Jeremy Corbyn. Shadow chancellor Mr McDonnell said she should reject claims she supported a "breakaway party" to show members she was "sticking with Labour". Ms Berger - an outspoken critic of the party's handling of anti-Semitism allegations and its stance on Brexit - said she would be not be "distracted from fighting for the interests of my constituents". The motions accuse Ms Berger of being against Mr Corbyn, saying: "Instead of fighting for a Labour government, our MP is continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister." Ms Berger has been the target of online abuse and had a police escort at last year's Labour Party conference following death threats.
Earlier this week, she joined other MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party calling for details on the party's efforts to tackle anti-Semitism to be released. And she said she had made "no secret that, as a Jewish woman representing a city with a Jewish community, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of response from Jeremy Corbyn as party leader and many in the wider leadership of the party to the anti-Semitism that stains our party". Ms Berger added: "Nothing will deter me from exposing anti-Semitism wherever it festers, including in the Labour Party where it is being wilfully ignored." A number of Labour MPs tweeted their support for Ms Berger after the news of the no confidence motions broke on Thursday night. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted that "she should be supported not undermined by everyone throughout our party", while prominent backbencher Yvette Cooper praised Ms Berger's campaigning and said she had her "solidarity". However, speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr McDonnell said the motion came about because Ms Berger is "associated" with rumours of a new centrist party being formed.
Mr Watson, the deputy leader, said Labour party members who bully Ms Berger "bring disgrace to the party that I love." Mr McDonnell pointed out that Ms Berger is not facing a deselection process, but that the matter is "simply an expression by local party members". "My advice is for Luciana to put this issue to bed, and say clearly that she is not supporting another party, not jumping ship and for local party members to say how can we support you and work together in the future and overcome the present difficulties." "As deputy leader of my party let me say to those facing that abuse, and especially to my friend and comrade for Liverpool Wavertree, she has our solidarity and our support as she battles the bullying hatred from members of her own local party." Ms Berger has criticised Mr Corbyn's handling of antisemitism within the Labour Party, and she has faced a torrent of online abuse. Yvette Cooper said: "Solidarity with Luciana Berger - a brilliant Labour MP, rightly campaigning against antisemitism both in our party and across the country and one of our most powerful voices campaigning on mental health. According to the Liverpool Echo, both motions are similarly worded, and say: "Wavertree CLP has no confidence in Luciana Berger as our representative in Parliament". The motions came soon after Ms Berger called on the Parliamentary Labour Party to give more details on the efforts to tackle antisemitism.
After Mr McDonnell's comments, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: "I don't know what's happening in Luciana's constituency but she has my full support in speaking out and stamping out the racism and antisemitism that's in our party & wider community." Luciana Berger, Labour's MP for Liverpool Wavertree, is the victim of antisemitic abuse and harassment. Luciana Berger's local constituency Labour party has just tabled a motion of no confidence in her. Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, is facing a no-confidence motion from her local party for criticising Jeremy Corbyn's handling of Labour's antisemitism crisis. John McDonnell said that he believed the motion was related to reports that Ms Berger was considering backing a party split and urged her to "just tell people you're not supporting a breakaway party". Mayor Joe Anderson has offered support to Luciana Berger after votes of no confidence were tabled against her - but has also urged her to come out and declare her loyalty to the Labour Party.