++ Gag on ex-staff as party braces for bomb­shell TV probe into anti-Semitism ++ McDon­nell tells leader to back sec­ond Brexit poll ++ Cor­byn al­lies are warned against mass cull of MPs

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

LABOUR was on the brink of civil war last night as Brexit and anti- Semitism threat­ened to split the party.

Jeremy Cor­byn has been rocked by fierce and high-level in­fight­ing on both is­sues ahead of a night­mare week.

And the Labour leader is braced for a bomb­shell Panorama doc­u­men­tary into the party’s botched han­dling of the anti-Semitism crisis.

In a sign of panic, of­fi­cials are tak­ing le­gal ac­tion to stop for­mer staff blow­ing the whis­tle be­fore the BBC broad­cast on Wed­nes­day.

The tac­tics were con­demned as ‘stupid’ by deputy leader Tom Wat­son while back­bencher Wes Street­ing warned he would use par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege to de­feat any gag­ging or­ders.

Shadow Chan­cel­lor John McDon­nell is heap­ing fur­ther pres­sure on Mr Cor­byn by push­ing him to back a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum and con­tin­ued EU mem­ber­ship. In other de­vel­op­ments:

Mr McDon­nell was forced to deny claims that he has also been try­ing to force Mr Cor­byn to sack his two clos­est aides;

John Cryer, who chairs the Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party, warned Mr Cor­byn’s al­lies against mass at­tempts to de­s­e­lect MPs;

Trade union lead­ers pre­pared to meet to­day to

dis­cuss whether the party should change its Brexit stance;

Gor­don Brown called on Mr Cor­byn to elim­i­nate anti-Semitism in the party and said the Jewish com­mu­nity de­served an un­qual­i­fied apol­ogy.

Labour was last night ac­cused of hypocrisy over its at­tempts to en­force gag­ging or­ders to pre­vent for­mer em­ploy­ees speak­ing out on anti-Semitism.

Up to half a dozen are be­lieved to have breached non- dis­clo­sure agree­ments they signed with the party so they can talk to Panorama.

Law firm Carter-Ruck – act­ing for Labour – has writ­ten to Sam Matthews, the party’s ex-head of dis­putes, warn­ing he could face le­gal ac­tion for break­ing his NDA by talk­ing to the me­dia.

A let­ter from the firm, leaked to the Sun­day Times, warned that the party ‘can­not be ex­pected to and will not tol­er­ate its for­mer em­ploy­ees wan­tonly dis­re­gard­ing their obli­ga­tions by se­lec­tively leak­ing in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia’.

Re­spond­ing to the le­gal warn­ing, Mr Wat­son said: ‘Us­ing ex­pen­sive me­dia lawyers in at­tempt to si­lence staff mem­bers is as fu­tile as it is stupid. It’s

LABOUR would split the Trea­sury and base part of it in the North, John McDon­nell claimed yesterday. The Shadow Chan­cel­lor said he would base a na­tional trans­for­ma­tion fund in north­ern Eng­land so ‘bet­ter de­ci­sions will be made’ for the re­gion. ‘Need to ex­press a view now’

not the Labour way and I de­plore it.’ Mr Street­ing, the Labour MP for Il­ford North, ap­pealed for any­one si­lenced by the party to come for­ward so he could speak out on their be­half in the House of Com­mons.

He tweeted: ‘ Labour op­poses NDAs yet seems to im­pose them. I’m pro­tected by par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege. I’ll whistle­blow in House of Com­mons for any­one who needs me to do so.

‘Sun­light is the best dis­in­fec­tant. No more ex­cuses or hid­ing places.’

Mike Katz, chair­man of the Jewish Labour Move­ment, said: ‘Given Labour has called for scrap­ping of NDAs and greater le­gal pro­tec­tion for whistle­blow­ers, it’s both hyp­o­crit­i­cal and just plain wrong of it to set ex­pen­sive lawyers on for­mer staff who are act­ing in the pub­lic in­ter­est to shine a light on in­sti­tu­tional an­tiJewish racism.’

But Mr McDon­nell de­fended the party’s use of gag­ging or­ders and threats of le­gal ac­tion, telling the BBC: ‘What they’re try­ing to do is just re­mind them of their con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments.’

Barry Gar­diner, the party’s in­ter­na­tional trade spokesman, yesterday sav­aged the Panorama pro­gramme.

He told Sky News it was ‘not a bal­anced and ob­jec­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into anti-Semitism’ but ‘a very par­tial view from a few mem­bers of staff who have a po­lit­i­cal axe to grind’.

En­ti­tled ‘Is Labour An­tiSemitic?’, the BBC pro­gramme will fea­ture in­ter­views from key in­sid­ers.

A spokesman for the show said: ‘The Labour Party is criticisin­g a pro­gramme they have not seen. We are con­fi­dent the pro­gramme will ad­here to the BBC’s ed­i­to­rial guide­lines.

‘ In line with those, the Labour Party has been given the op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions.’

Mr Cryer yesterday warned that Labour had failed to ad­dress anti-Semitism in its ranks and needed to act much more quickly on the is­sue. He said pro­ce­dures had im­proved un­der the party’s cur­rent gen­eral sec­re­tary, Jen­nie Formby, but told the BBC that not all anti-Semites were be­ing kicked out.

‘We’ve failed to ad­dress an­ti­Semitism,’ he said. ‘The bot­tom line is, are we kick­ing peo­ple out of the party who are anti-Semitic?

‘In some cases yes we are, but in some cases no. If you’re a racist, you shouldn’t be in the Labour Party.’

It was claimed yesterday that Mr McDon­nell and shadow home sec­re­tary Diane Ab­bott have tried to force Mr Cor­byn to sack his chief-of-staff Karie Murphy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Seu­mas Milne.

The pair are ac­cused of hold­ing Mr Cor­byn ‘cap­tive’ in his of­fice and block­ing him from chang­ing the party’s po­si­tion on Brexit.

But Mr McDon­nell de­nied the re­ports, telling the BBC: ‘I’ve not told any­one to be sacked or any­thing like that.’

Yesterday he warned that the party’s at­tempt to find a com­pro­mise po­si­tion on Brexit that ap­peals to both for­mer Leave and Re­main vot­ers ‘has not worked’.

He said: ‘We need to ex­press a view now. I will vote Re­main, I want to cam­paign for Re­main.’

Mr McDon­nell added: ‘I’ve said to Jeremy, if Boris John­son does call a gen­eral elec­tion in Septem­ber we won’t even have a con­fer­ence to de­cide th­ese mat­ters.

‘ That’s why we need to de­cide early and get on with it and that’s why he is talk­ing to peo­ple now to bring them to­gether.’

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