Andrew Neil challenges Jonathan Ashworth over Corbyn comments
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Speaking to French radio France Inter, the close ally to Emmanuel Macron claimed the former Labour leader is an “anti-Semite” who branded the French President “rubbish” when he visited Paris. In a bid to discredit his opponents ahead of this weekend legislative election, Mr Beaune said: “There are candidates like Mecary, Obono, Simonnet, who brought Jeremy Corbyn to Paris.
“An anti-Semitic and pro-Assad who insulted the police and said that the President of the Republic was rubbish.”
Mr Corbyn lost the party whip in 2020 over his response to an equalities watchdog’s report into anti-Semitism in Labour.
He served a membership suspension but his leadership successor Sir Keir Starmer has refused to readmit him to the parliamentary party.
He is denied readmission until he apologises for stating that antisemitism in the party had been overstated for political reasons.
He is blamed by fellow MPs for pushing the party to the defeat in the 2019 elections, due to his handling of the antisemitic row, but up to this day he refuses to retract his comments.
In his defence, he said in May: “I sit amongst Labour MPs. I talk to a lot of Labour MPs all the time, but it feels irritating the way I’ve been treated.
“And I have not indulged in any kind of personal attacks of vendettas and don’t intend to as far as I’m concerned.
“My responsibility is to be a member of parliament to represent my constituency, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Mr Corbyn said he had no plans to retire, despite him being 72, and added: “I am fine, I am fit and healthy and active.
“And so I am excited by doing the job, excited by representing people and happy to carry on.”
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Asked to comment on antisemitism accusations, he said: “I’ve explained many times that my total abhorrence of anti semitism in any form.
“The EHRC did an investigation.
“And on the day concerned, I accepted the EHRC report and said that it should be implemented, and I would support the implementation of it.”
Alan Johnson, a former home secretary, asked whether Mr Corbyn should have the whip restored said: “Leave it where he is, and he’ll be happy and sanctimonious and pious where he is, leave him there.”
Referring to Mr Corbyn’s supporters, he said: “These people are out there, and they’re entitled to their beliefs, but they’ve got to stand on their beliefs, not…infiltrate the party.”
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Mr Beaune’s attack comes as Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance Ensemble! could lose its majority in France’s parliament on Sunday to the NUPES coalition led by the hard left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon.
After the first round of the votes last weekend, Mr Melenchon said: “Come out and vote next Sunday to reject the evil politics of Mr Macron.”
If President Macron’s centrist alliance loses its outright majority in the run-off round, the president will be forced into making messy pacts with factions of the centre right or centre left who refuse to align with Mr Melenchon on a bill-by-bill basis.
It could also trigger a cabinet reshuffle.
At stake is Mr Macron’s ability to pass reforms including a contested pension reform that would see the French work longer, a change the former investment banker says is necessary to ensure long-term order to the public finances.
His opponents on the left are pushing to cut the pension age and launch a big-spending drive as surging inflation drives the cost of living higher and erodes wages.
Mr Melenchon depicts President Macron as an economic liberal who protects the rich and not hard-up households.
Express.co.uk has contacted Jeremy Corbyn for comment.
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