Labour MP who called Zionism 'enemy of peace' to stand as deputy leader

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Richard Burgon has said he regrets past comments made about Zionism. (PA Images)

Labour MP who expressed regret for describing Zionism as the “enemy of peace” has said he is standing to be the party’s new deputy leader.

Richard Burgon, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, threw his hat in the ring for the post this afternoon.

But it remains to be seen if his past remarks - which he said was a phrase he does not agree with - will hinder his bid.

In his article in Tribune, he suggests Brexit was a major factor in Labour’s defeat. Not once does he mention anti-semitism.

Footage unearthed earlier this year by investigative reporter Iggy Ostanin shows Mr Burgon saying in 2014: “The enemy of the Palestinian people is not the Jewish people, the enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.

“We need to be loud, we need to be proud in support of a free Palestine.”

Mr Burgon had previously denied making the comments.

He said that when he was first challenged over the comments in 2016, he “did not recall” making the remarks and asked for further details - but claimed to have had no reply and therefore believed the reporting of the comments was “inaccurate”.

Richard Burgon is aiming to become Labour's deputy leader. (PA Images)

“It is now clear that I did and I regret doing so,” he said this year.

He added: “As I have subsequently said on numerous occasions when asked about this, I do not agree with that phrase.

“I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law, and those, such as the current Israeli government, which is undermining efforts towards peace.

“The terminology has different meanings to different people and the simplistic language used does not reflect how I now think about this complex issue and I would not use it again today.

“It is being reported that I made those remarks in 2014, which was before I was elected as an MP.”

Meanwhile, as Labour members prepare to vote for a new leader and deputy, a group of ousted Labour MPs who were beaten in this year’s election described failure to tackle anti-semitism as a key reason for the party’s defeat.

In a letter to the Observer, the ex-MPs and failed candidates said the party’s “unwillingness to stand up to the stain of antisemitism was constantly relayed back to us on the doorstep”.

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