Ex-London mayor quits UK’s Labour amid anti-Semitism scandal

Ken Livingstone quit Britain’s Labour party amid allegations of anti-Semitism, saying they were a distraction from the “key political issue of our time.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has resigned from Britain’s Labour Party, which had suspended him over allegations of anti-Semitism.

Livingstone said Monday that he was quitting because the issue had become a “distraction.”

“After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party,” Livingstone announced on Monday.

“The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the National Health Service of the vital resources they need,” he said.

Livingstone was once one of Britain’s most powerful Labour politicians, serving two terms as mayor of the capital city between 2000 and 2008.

However, he was suspended by the party in 2016 after saying in a BBC interview that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.

Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since pro-Palestinian socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015. Some in the party say Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.

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The Labour party has repeatedly come under fire for anti-Semitism among party members, including Corbyn.

During an interview with Channel 10 while on a diplomatic mission to Israel last month, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair blasted the current party leadership over its utter “failure to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks and root out anti-Semitism completely, totally.”

Also in April, Avi Gabbay, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, announced that his party had decided to suspend relations with its British counterpart, citing its ongoing hostility towards the Jewish people and recurring anti-Semitic statements by its leader.

Corbyn said Livingstone’s resignation was sad, but “the right thing to do.”