Labour to investigate ‘vile’ Islamophobic remarks by ‘party official’

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Deputy leader Angela Rayner said there would be an investigation into the comments (Picture: EMPICS Entertainment)

Labour has been accused of Islamophobia after a ‘senior official’ was quoted as saying Muslims were turning away from Keir Starmer because of his stance challening antisemitism.

The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner promised an investigation into the comments, which came ahead of a by-election in Jo Cox’s former seat Batley and Spen.

After the anonymous official was quoted in the Mail on Sunday today, the Labour Muslim Network said ‘this is a patently vile, Islamophobic briefing’.

A statement added: ‘This racism needs to be challenged urgently and publicly by the Labour leadership and the party as a whole.’

The individual reportedly linked the party losing support from Muslim voters with leader Sir Keir Starmer’s efforts to combat antisemitism.

The ‘senior Labour official’ reportedly said: ‘We’re haemorrhaging votes among Muslim voters.

‘And the reason for that is what Keir has been doing on antisemitism.

‘Nobody really wants to talk about it, but that’s the main factor.

‘He challenged (former leader Jeremy) Corbyn on it, and there’s been a backlash among certain sections of the community.’

Ms Rayner said: ‘As deputy leader I want to make clear publicly that these comments that are being attributed to a member of Labour Party staff in a newspaper today are not a Labour Party response or statement, are completely unacceptable and are not condoned or sanctioned in any way by the party.

‘I will be ensuring that the party investigates this reported comment in line with our party’s rules and processes. Anybody who has made these comments should and will be dealt with in line with our independent disciplinary procedures, which I have no role in as deputy leader.’

Angela Rayner said the comments were unacceptable (Picture: PA)

The row comes as concerns grew over Labour’s prospects in the by-election on July 1 in the seat where Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016.

A new poll put her sister, Kim Leadbeater, on course to lose the heartlands constituency in Yorkshire to the Conservatives.

The Tories were on 47% – up 11% from the 2019 general election – while Labour was on 43%, according to Survation’s phone poll of adults earlier this month.

George Galloway, the former Labour and Respect MP, was in third place on 6%, with indications some of those votes had come from Labour as he tries to oust Sir Keir.

If Labour loses this by-election, having been defeated by the Tories last month in the former stronghold of Hartlepool, it will prompt fresh questions over the party leadership.

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