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Why did Labour MP clash with Corbyn over anti-Semitism code?

Jeremy Corbyn is facing fresh pressure over Labour’s policy on dealing with anti-Semitism.

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has brought in lawyers after being told she faces disciplinary action over a Commons clash with Jeremy Corbyn about anti-Semitism.

Here we look at the background to the row:

– Why did Dame Margaret clash with Mr Corbyn?

The Jewish veteran former minister, who lost family members in the Holocaust, confronted the Labour leader after the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism despite intense criticism from the party’s MPs and peers as well as Jewish leaders.

– What was said during the row?

Dame Margaret reportedly told Mr Corbyn he was a “f****** anti-Semite and a racist”.

Mr Corbyn was said to have responded: “I’m sorry you feel like that.”

In a legal letter, the MP denied having sworn at the party leader.

Mr Corbyn has since said the incident behind the Speaker’s chair in the Commons had upset him.

“I felt not pleased about it, I felt upset about it but as always I am very calm and treat people with a great deal of respect,” he said.

– Why have lawyers been brought in?

Dame Margaret involved Mishcon de Reya after she was sent a letter informing her she was being investigated.

In a letter to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby, the law firm said the party had failed to set out what the allegations against the MP were and questioned the “fairness and legitimacy” of the probe.

– Why is Labour’s new code of conduct on anti-Semitism so controversial?

The party’s code explicitly endorses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism and includes a list of behaviours likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic copied word-for-word from the organisation’s own document.

But it omits four examples from the IHRA list:

– Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country;

– Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour;

– Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations; and

– Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.

Labour insisted that while the examples are not reproduced word-for-word, they are covered in the new code.

But its MPs and peers have already overwhelmingly rejected the party’s version and will meet again on Monday to discuss a fresh demand for the IHRA version to be adopted.

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