Wednesday 19 December 2018

Corbyn faces backlash over sacking of Smith

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

David Hughes in London

Britain's Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a backlash after sacking Owen Smith from his shadow cabinet over Brexit.

Mr Smith was replaced as shadow Northern Ireland secretary after calling for a second European Union referendum.

Mr Smith said he had been sacked for his views on the "damage" Brexit will do to the UK's economy and the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, won public support from pro-EU Labour figures - with former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain accusing the Labour leader of a "terrible Stalinist purge".

Mr Smith's sacking came amid mounting anger over Mr Corbyn's response to a controversy surrounding allegedly anti-Semitic street art which was being painted over in 2012.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech.

"However, the mural was offensive, used anti-Semitic imagery."

MP Mike Gapes said that "apparently (in) Corbyn world free speech is allowed for anti-Semites but not for Labour MPs supporting the views of our members and our 2016 Conference Policy on the EU".

Irish Independent

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