Press Association — May 21, 2018
Ken Livingstone has announced that he is resigning from the Labour party, saying the issues around his suspension for alleged antisemitism had become a distraction.
The former London mayor and Labour MP said he was leaving the party he first joined 50 years ago with “great sadness” but would continue to work for a government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
In a statement on Twitter, he said: “After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour party. We desperately need a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and I’ll continue to work to this end.”
Livingstone, 72, has been suspended since 2016 in a row over anti-semitism that erupted after he made comments linking Adolf Hitler and Zionism, but a new Labour party disciplinary process was due to begin this week.
The veteran politician said he was quitting after his lawyers advised him that if he lost his case and was expelled, it would take at least two years before any legal challenge was resolved.
However, while he apologised for his controversial remarks which offended many in the Jewish community, he denied that he was guilty of anti-semitism.
“I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor that I am in any way guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor antisemitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so,” he said.
“I also recognise 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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After much consideration, I have decided to resign from Labour. We desperately need a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain & I'll continue to work to this end.
You can read my statement at https://t.co/GDDSp8Q0qN#JC4PM pic.twitter.com/qpDwnxDfcs
— Ken Livingstone (@ken4london) May 21, 2018