Shadow Cabinet minister David Lammy has apologised for nominating Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour leader six years ago, saying it was "a mistake and I am sorry for that".
Mr Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, said he “never believed” Mr Corbyn would become leader and said he regretted being one of the 35 Labour MPs who helped propel Mr Corbyn from the political wilderness to the top of the party in 2015.
Mr Lammy is not the first senior Labour figure to express regret about nominating the left-winger to be leader. Before the contest had even finished in 2015, party grandee Dame Margaret Beckett admitted she had been a "moron" to help put Mr Corbyn on the ballot paper.
Mr Corbyn – who was leader from Sep 2015 to April 2020 – has been widely blamed for making Labour unelectable as a party of government by adopting unpopular left-wing policies and failing to tackle anti-Semitism within the party.
Dame Margaret Beckett said she had been a 'moron' to support Jeremy Corbyn's leadership bid
Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA
He was only able to stand for the leadership after 35 Labour MPs from across the party decided to back him, despite in some cases supporting other candidates in the contest.
Mr Lammy told an online event this week: "I regret nominating Jeremy Corbyn and if I knew what I do now I never would have nominated him.
"I never believed he would become leader. That was a mistake and I am sorry for that.”
Speaking to the online Limmud Festival for 300 members of the Jewish community, the Tottenham MP admitted he was “staggered” to learn individuals with deeply anti-Semitic views remained in the Labour Party, the Jewish News reported.
He said: “I’ve met some of these individuals and am frankly staggered some are still in the party. But as a lawyer I understand that people appeal and go to court. There is a process, which can feel slow and tortuous sometimes, but it must be undertaken."
Mr Corbyn was suspended from the Labour party in Sep 2020 by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer
Mr Lammy said he subscribed to the “rainbow coalition approach to politics”, emphasising his pride in the Jewish community for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with leaders including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in their fight against apartheid.
Mr Corbyn was suspended from the Labour party in Sep 2020 by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, after he said that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party had been "dramatically overstated" by his opponents.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about Mr Lammy’s remarks yesterday by The Daily Telegraph.
Other prominent Labour figures who nominated Mr Corbyn, such as Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan and shadow Cabinet minister Emily Thornberry, have not said it was a mistake to do so.
However, in July 2015, Dame Margaret, who held a series of top positions in the party including being acting leader, said she had been a "moron" to lend her vote to support Mr Corbyn’s candidature.
After John McTernan, an ex-adviser to Tony Blair, had said MPs who "lent" their nominations to Mr Corbyn to "broaden the debate" were "morons", Dame Margaret admitted to the BBC: "I am one of them."
The 35 Labour MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn to be leader in 2015
Dame Margaret – who in the event supported Mr Corbyn’s rival Andy Burnham in the four-way leadership contest – added: "At no point did I intend to vote for Jeremy myself – nice as he is – nor advise anyone else to do it. We were being urged as MPs to have a field of candidates."
A year later in July 2016, another Labour MP who nominated Mr Corbyn – Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali – was calling for Mr Corbyn "to do the decent thing" and quit in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
He said: “The Labour party needs strong leadership to see us through the period ahead, to hold the Government to account and to fight a possible early general election.
“It is vital we repair the deep divisions in our country and help unite the many different communities, and especially those who feel particularly anxious about their future.”