Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed comments made by his deputy leader about bullying in the Labour Party, claiming he does not believe it exists on a “wide scale”.
The Labour leader was addressing remarks made by Tom Watson, who had suggested that a “virulent form of identity politics has seized the party.”
Nine MPs quit the party this week, with the majority citing growing antisemitism and bullying under Mr Corbyn’s leadership as key reasons behind their decision to leave.
The Labour leader said that all issues of “bad behaviour” are dealt with and there was no place for such behaviour in the party.
“[There is] no place for harshness, bullying or anything else in the party and to tell you the truth, I don’t believe it exists on a wide scale,” Mr Corbyn told Sky News.
“Where there is bad behaviour, we deal with it.”
Speculation has continued to circulated around Westminster that more disaffected MPs could follow the initial nine who have left the party.
In response to seven MPs announcing they had quit the party at a surprise press conference on Monday, Mr Watson delivered an urgent warning to the Labour leader to reach out to all wings of the party or risk further resignations.
Two MPs – Ian Austin and Joan Ryan – have since quit the party, citing issues with Mr Corbyn’s leadership and the party’s handling of antisemitism allegations.
In a video message, the deputy leader also issued a scathing attack on “hard left” members who were celebrating after the MPs decided to leave the party’s ranks.
“I love this party,” Mr Watson said. “But sometimes I no longer recognise it. That’s why I do not regard those who have resigned today as traitors.”
He added: “I confess I feared this day would come. And I fear now, that unless we change, we may see more days like this. The departure of our colleagues poses a test for our party.” Read more