Keir Starmer drew a line under the Jeremy Corbyn era today, declaring: “The Labour Party is under new management.”
The party chief hit out during angry clashes with Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, just two hours after Labour formally apologised for an anti-Semitism row under the previous leader.
Labour risks being plunged into another bout of infighting just as it tries to move on from Mr Corbyn’s four-and-a-half year reign, which was ended by their worst election loss since 1935.
Mr Starmer, who was Shadow Brexit Secretary on Mr Corbyn’s frontbench, is increasingly wielding his power after winning the leadership race in April.
But today he was taunted over the party’s record on Russia under previous leaders.
As a backbencher, Mr Corbyn made regular appearances on the Russia Today TV channel – something seized on by the PM.
But Mr Starmer hit back: “In case the Prime Minister hadn’t noticed, the Labour Party is under new management and no frontbencher of this party has appeared on Russia Today since I’ve been leading.”
After their exchange, Mr Starmer blasted the PM for his own record on Russia, following the long-delayed publication of a report into the country’s efforts to interfere in UK politics.
He said on Twitter : “I’m not going to take lectures from a Prime Minister, who sat on
an Intelligence and Security Committee report for 10 months, on national security.”
Earlier, it emerged Labour would pay “substantial damages” to whistleblowers who contributed to a TV expose of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn.
The party also issued an apology over “defamatory and false allegations” made after the BBC probe.
Seven former staff from Labour’s governance and legal unit, who were responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by members, sued after the party accused them of having “personal and political axes to grind”.
It followed the broadcast in July 2019 of a BBC Panorama programme titled Is Labour Anti-Semitic?
Katherine Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Daniel Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Martha Robinson and Benjamin Westerman felt there was “a lack of commitment” by Labour to probe the claims, the High Court heard.
Their barrister, William Bennett, said Labour falsely painted them as “acting in bad faith with the intention of harming the party”.
The Jewish Labour Movement said: “It is a sad reflection of its role as the party of working people that Labour sought to silence employees for speaking out against racism.”
Panorama reporter John Ware is taking legal action against Mr Corbyn after the former leader said yesterday Labour settling the case “risks giving credibility to misleading allegations” about action taken to tackle anti-Semitism.