John McDonnell has waded into the row a bid by Corbynistas to oust Labour MP Luciana Berger – demanding she rules out joining a breakaway party.
Senior MPs rallied behind her last night after it emerged the Liverpool Wavertree constituency party will consider two no confidence motions on February 17.
But Mr McDonnell insisted this morning that the action against Ms Berger was triggered by concern she would defect to another political group, not because of her views on Mr Corbyn.
The intervention sparked fury, with Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock branding him a ‘disgrace’ and saying he needed to ‘deal with the racism in your own party’.
Luciana Berger, 37, (pictured at Brexit debate in Parliament Square last month) could be ousted from her job if the local Labour group votes to remove her
John McDonnell (pictured giving an interview on Sky News today) insisted this morning that the action against Ms Berger was triggered by concern she would defect to another political group, not because of her views on Mr Corbyn
The intervention sparked fury, with Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock branding Mr McDonnell a ‘disgrace’
Mr McDonnell called on the MP to make clear she is not planning to ‘jump ship’.
He told Sky News: ‘If people are saying ‘look, we are expressing a vote of no confidence because Luciana has stood up and exposed anti-Semitism in our party’, that would be completely wrong and, of course, we would say that is not right.
‘But it looks as though there’s other issues.
‘It seems on social media, from what I’ve seen, what’s happened is Luciana has been associated in the media with a breakaway party.
‘Some local party members, the media, have asked her to deny that. She hasn’t been clear in that.
‘So my advice really, on all of this, is for Luciana to just put this issue to bed.
‘Say very clearly ‘no, I’m not supporting another party, I’m not jumping ship’.
‘And for local party members to sit down with Luciana and actually say ‘how can we support you? How can we work together in the future?’ And then overcome the present difficulties.’
Mr McDonnell said: ‘It’s not a deselection from what I understand. We are not into our selection process.
‘It’s a vote of no confidence, which is simply an expression by local party members.’
But posting on Twitter, Ms Pollock responded: ‘Demanding loyalty from @lucianaberger rather than addressing the racism in your party? What a disgrace. Take responsibility @johnmcdonnellMP and deal with the racism in your own party. What has @UKLabour become?’
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in his Commons office this week) has faced intense criticism over his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis, as well as his positioning on Brexit