MP John Mann has quit the House of Commons over anti-Semitism, saying he would “never forgive” Jeremy Corbyn for allowing the party to be “hijacked” by antisemites.
Mr Mann, who was chairman of the all-party anti-Semitism group, made the announcement in The Sunday Times, with the veteran politician telling the newspaper he will not stand at the next election and will instead be taking up a full-time role to tackle the issue of anti-Semitism head-on, becoming the Government’s anti-Semitism tsar.
“The party will not survive the erosion of its principles and its soul by this racist infiltration,” Mr Mann told the newspaper. “Corbyn has given the green light to the anti-semites and having done so has sat there and done nothing to turn that round.”
“Every time I go into a meeting with a group of Jewish people, I wince when they raise the issue of the Labour party and Corbyn. It is impossible to overstate the anger that I have about that. He has not just hijacked my political party — he has hijacked its soul and its ethics. I will never forgive him for that,” he added.
And while he admitted it was a “sacrifice”, he said he wasn’t prepared to support Corbyn as a Prime Minister.
“I’m not prepared to lie to my voters”, he said, saying that he could not tell people Corbyn was fit to be prime minister, “because I don’t think he is”.
John Mann has been MP for Bassetlaw since 2001 and voted to leave the European Union three years ago. He was one of only two Labour MPs to vote against Labour’s bill to block a no-deal Brexit. However, he says his leaving is not due to Brexit but anti-Semitism.
In 2016, Mr Mann was filmed berating the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, calling him a “Nazi apologist” and a “racist” after Livingstone made the false claim that “Hitler was a Zionist”.
Unless a General Election is held soon, a by-election may be triggered in his Nottinghamshire seat, which voted for Leave in the 2016 referendum.
Mr Mann is not the first Labour MP to quit the party over anti-Semitism. Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Joan Ryan, quit the party earlier in the year citing anti-Semitism as the main reason, as did Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who was a member of Change. This week she joined the Liberal Democrats. Three Labour peers in the House of Lords also resigned the party whip in July, saying Labour had become “plainly institutionally antisemitic”.