Tom Watson suggests Labour’s general secretary should quit if antisemitism row not dealt with by Christmas

'She has been in post for three or four months. If I come here against at Christmas and she has not dealt with it then you may be asking me why she is still in post'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 12 September 2018 16:44
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Jennie Formby should quit if anti-Semitism row not over by Christmas, says deputy leader Tom Watson

Tom Watson has suggested that Labour’s general secretary should step down if the antisemitism row within the party has not been dealt with by Christmas.

While defending Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s deputy leader, Mr Watson, said Jennie Formby, who was appointed to the position in April, had “staked” her career on dealing within antisemitism in Labour.

His warning comes after the party was engulfed in a row over antisemitism in the summer months, centring on the party’s adaptation of the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism in full.

The party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), agreed last week to adopt the definition without amendments.

“We should have dealt with it earlier,” Mr Watson told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “We have hired a new general secretary who has staked her career on dealing with antisemitism in our party.

“She has been in post for three or four months. If I come here against at Christmas and she has not dealt with it then you may be asking me why she is still in post.”

Ms Formby took over from Iain McNicol, who resigned in February, and is only the second woman to hold the post of general secretary.

Upon taking post, she vowed to introduce procedures to deal with complaints and disciplinary cases, and said the "stain" of antisemitic attitudes must be "completely eradicated" within the party.

The Labour Party declined to comment on the deputy leader’s intervention on Wednesday.

In the interview, Mr Watson also said Labour should keep the option of a fresh EU referendum in its “back pocket” but said it was a “tiny option” and that it should only be utilised if Theresa May does not call a general election.

“John McDonnell was right to say the way to resolve this is by a general election,” he added. “If you cannot get to that - she is not going to give us a general election - then there is a tiny option of putting the deal to the people.

“It is not unreasonable to keep that in as an option in my view. We need to keep that in the back pocket.”

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