Ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone quits Labour Party amid anti-Semitism scandal | News | DW | 21.05.2018
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Ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone quits Labour Party amid anti-Semitism scandal

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has left the Labour Party after it suspended him in 2016 over alleged anti-Semitic remarks. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of letting anti-Semitism go unchecked.

Over two years after he was suspended from Britain's opposition Labour Party, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced he was quitting the party on Monday.

In a statement on his website, Livingstone said issues surrounding his suspension had "become a distraction" for the party's leadership.

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The 72-year-old was suspended from the party in April 2016 following comments he made about Adolf Hitler and Zionism in a BBC interview.

He told the broadcaster that when Hitler came to power in the early 1930s, "his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews."

The comment was heavily criticized, but Livingstone has denied that he is anti-Semitic.

"I abhor anti-Semitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so," he said in Monday's statement.

But he added: "I also recognize that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that."

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Corbyn under fire

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was saddened by Livingstone's resignation, but praised him for making the decision.

"Ken Livingstone's resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do," Corbyn said in a statement.

Corbyn was criticized for not expelling Livingstone, who served as London's first mayor from 2000 to 2008.

Jewish groups and some Labour Party members have accused Corbyn of letting anti-Semitism go unchecked in the party.

After Labour did not perform as well as expected in local London elections this month, some pointed to Corbyn's handling of the anti-Semitism scandal as a reason for lackluster results.

rs/nm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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