A former Labor MP who quit the party four years ago over anti-Semitism under Jeremy Corbyn has rejoined.
Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, left the party in February 2019saying he could not “remain in a party which I have today come to the sick conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic”.
But Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer revealed that Ms Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree from 2010 to 2019, had accepted his invitation to rejoin the Labor Party.
“My test for change was whether those rightly appalled by how far we’ve come believe this is their party again,” he tweeted.
“I know we have more to do, but we are unrecognizable from the party that forced her out.”
Sir Keir shared images of the letter he had sent to Ms Berger apologizing “again on behalf of the whole party” for the “disgusting” anti-Semitic abuse she received while Mr Corbyn he was a leader.
He said she had been “forced to flee bullying, abuse and racism” in a “stain on Labour’s history” and called on her to return to the party.
Ms Berger lost her seat after joining the newly formed Change UK party. and later to the Liberal Democrats.
In her reply to Sir Keir, Ms Berger said: “I look forward to rejoining the party and working with you to continue what you have started.
“It’s time to replace this reckless and divisive government and finally make the difference our country so desperately deserves.”
Labor has “fallen into the abyss” under Corbyn
Ms Berger said she was “delighted” with the Equality and Human Rights Committee decision to no longer monitor the party for anti-Semitismbut added: “Like you [Sir Keir] rightly said, this is not a time for celebration and there is much more to be done.”
He claimed the party had “fallen into the depths of the abyss under the reign of Jeremy Corbyn”.
“I never expected to witness the volume and toxicity of anti-Jewish racism espoused by people who had been allowed into the Labor Party, and to experience a leadership that dealt with anti-Semitism in the ranks of the party differently from any other kind of racism – and this by denying to condemn it, he encouraged it,” he said.
“But that’s exactly what happened.”
Sir Keir wrote: “Before you were forced out of the party, you were an excellent member of Parliament.”
She said the party and British politics are a “poorer place” without her and apologized for the “unbearable and unacceptable” experience she had had.
“The abuse you suffered was disgusting. You were left isolated and exposed. Unfortunately, those who were supposed to defend you stood by you.
“The Labor Party – our party – has always prided itself on being a party of equality, collegiality, solidarity and anti-racism.
“But in those dark days we were none of those things.”
Her return was applauded by several in the party hierarchy, including shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who tweeted: “So happy to have you back Luciana.”
Peter Kyle, the party’s spokesman for Northern Ireland, tweeted: “A moving and healing moment. Friends of the Labor Party and Luciana finally reunited. I am grateful to @Keir_Starmer for making this possible and in awe of the strength and @lucianaberger’s compassion for giving us this precious second chance. Labor has changed for the better.”
Margaret Hodge, another Labor critic of Corbyn, tweeted: “Welcome back Luciana! It’s so important that those kicked out of Labor because of vile antisemitism now feel they can return to their political home. We have Labour Party is proudly once again an outgoing, tolerant and inclusive party.”
Jewish Labor added: “The former speaker of our parliament @lucianaberger is a hero of the Labor Movement. What happened to her under Corbyn’s leadership was shameful and she showed tremendous bravery. That she feels now is the time to come back shows that the party, the right path begins.”
Starmer rules out Corbyn being Labour’s candidate at the next election
Signaling the EHRC’s decision to no longer monitor the party for anti-Semitism, Sir Keir ruled out allowing Jeremy Corbyn to stand as Labor candidate in the next general election.
The human rights watchdog in 2020 found that the party had breached the Equality Act in relation to its handling of anti-Semitic complaints.
Mr Corbyn rejected some of the report’s findings and claimed the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” – comments which led to Labor HQ expelling him from the party.
Mrs. Berger joined the board of online used car retailer Cazoo in August 2021 as chair of the environment, social and governance (ESG) committee.