Alastair Campbell expelled by Labour after voting for Lib Dems in protest at Brexit stance

Tony Blair’s former spin chief contrasts ruthless approach with ‘the way antisemitism cases have been handled’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 28 May 2019 13:35 BST
Alastair Campbell admits voting for Lib Dems: 'I didn't vote Labour for the first time in my life'

Labour has expelled Alastair Campbell after he voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections to push for a fresh Brexit referendum.

Tony Blair’s former spin chief attacked the decision, contrasting the ruthless approach with “the way antisemitism cases have been handled”.

“I have been advised by lawyers with expertise in this field I have grounds for appeal against expulsion and shall do so,” Mr Campbell tweeted.

Last week, the lifelong Labour supporter revealed he had turned his back on the party for the first time ever, voting instead for the Lib Dems because of their outright support for a Final Say referendum.

Labour then crashed to a disastrous third place in the EU elections, triggering fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to abandon his fence-sitting on the crucial issue.

However, a party spokesman insisted: “Support for another political party or candidate is incompatible with party membership.”

The decision was announced within minutes of the UK’s equality watchdog launching a formal investigation into whether Labour has “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised” Jewish people.

Mr Corbyn’s office has been repeatedly criticised for dragging its heels over antisemitism complaints, leaving members facing accusations in place.

There is also criticism that Leave-backing Kate Hoey has kept the Labour whip, despite appearing to campaign for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Hitting back hard, Mr Campbell – a leading support of the People’s Vote campaign – said there was “plenty of precedent” for Labour members backing other parties,” adding: “Some are now senior party staff.”

That appeared to be a reference to Andrew Fisher, the head of policy and author of the 2017 election manifesto, who in 2015 appeared to back a Class War candidate over Labour.

Mr Fisher was briefly suspended in 2015, but carried on working for Mr Corbyn, who said he had “full confidence in Andrew Fisher and his work” and called for the matter to be “settled as quickly as possible”.

Mr Campbell also pointed out that Mr Blair, when prime minister, had been pressed to kick out Mr Corbyn for “persistently voting” against the Labour whip, but had refused.

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In a series of tweets, he said he was “sad and disappointed” to be told of his expulsion “particularly on a day leadership finally seems to be moving to the right place on Brexit”.

He argued this was “not least thanks to tactical voting by party members, including MPs, councillors and peers who back” a Final Say referendum.

“I am and always will be Labour. I voted Lib Dem, without advance publicity, to try to persuade Labour to do right thing for country/party,” Mr Campbell said.

He added: “Hard not to point out difference in the way antisemitism cases have been handled.”

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