Keir Starmer today urged Jeremy Corbyn’s allies not to launch “civil war” as he insisted: “I’m not purging anybody”.
The Labour leader faced anger from the Labour left after Mr Corbyn was suspended over his response to anti-Semitism.
Mr Corbyn found out from a photographer that he’d been suspended at 1pm after claiming his enemies and the media had “dramatically overstated” the scale of anti-Jewish racism “for political reasons”.
He also refused to accept all the damning findings of the EHRC – which found Labour broke equality law on his watch.
After talks last night, Mr Corbyn’s allies claim this morning he has still not been told which rule he is accused of breaking.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Labour’s biggest donor Unite, claimed the suspension could cost Labour another election.
The Corbyn ally said it would “create chaos within the party” adding: “A split party will be doomed to defeat”.
Mr Corbyn’s former communications chief James Schneider attacked Sir Keir’s “foolish” decision.
He said he “hoped” there would not be a civil war but warned things could “end badly for everyone involved”.
Sir Keir today stood by the “appropriate” decision to suspend Mr Corbyn – and urged left-wingers to back down from civil war.
He told Sky News: “There’s no reason for a civil war in our party but I’m absolutely determined to root out anti-Semitism.
“I don’t want the words Labour Party and anti-Semitism in the same sentence again. That’s about rebuilding trust.”
He added: “I’m not purging anybody or any group within the Labour party.
“What I’m being very clear about is the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate anti-Semitism, full stop.
“Nor will it tolerate those who say anti-Semitism in the Labour Party doesn’t really exist, it’s exaggerated, or it’s just a factional war whipped up in or outside the Labour Party, including by the media.
“I’m not in the business of purging anyone from the Labour Party. I’m in the business of taking difficult decisions to follow through on a commitment I made not just to our Jewish communities, but to the British public, that as leader of the Labour Party I would tackle anti-Semitism.”
Sir Keir phoned Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday night to make clear he would be accepting the EHRC’s findings in full.
It is thought he stopped short of threatening the former leader with suspension if he refused to do the same.
The decision to suspend Mr Corbyn was taken by Labour’s general secretary but Sir Keir was involved in removing the whip.
Sir Keir today warned Jeremy Corbyn, like any other member under investigation, could be expelled – the first former leader to suffer that fate since Ramsay MacDonald in the 1930s.
But he added: “It’s not for me to say what process should be followed, that’s for the general secretary.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found the Labour Party breached equality law in its “inadequate” handling of anti-Semitism cases.
It ruled Jeremy Corbyn ’s office unlawfully “politically interfered” with almost two dozen alleged cases – including of Ken Livingstone and the leader himself.
Keir Starmer apologised on “the day of shame” and vowed to act after the watchdog found “serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process” for dealing with complaints.
The 130-page report did not find personal anti-Semitism on the part of Jeremy Corbyn. No criminal law was broken by Labour. But it found Labour was responsible for three civil law breaches of the Equality Act:
* Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, including by the leader’s office;
* Failure to provide adequate training to those handling complaints;
* Harassment through two high-profile members who made anti-Semitic statements, including Mr Livingstone.
Sir Keir was challenged today over why he did not quit the Shadow Cabinet over anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn.
He insisted he “challenged” on the issue inside Mr Corbyn’s top team.
Asked three times if he thought Mr Corbyn was personally anti-Semitic, he told the BBC: “I don’t see Jeremy Corbyn in that light.”
He added: “I think it’s very important to recognise that in the report we received yesterday there were no individual findings against Jeremy Corbyn.”