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Corbyn campaign hit by fresh storm over anti-Semitism
[LONDON] Jeremy Corbyn is again embroiled in a row over anti-Semitism, after the UK's chief rabbi suggested the Labour leader is unfit for high office and said a "new poison - sanctioned from the very top - has taken root" in his party.
The timing could hardly be worse. Labour trails Boris Johnson's Conservatives going into the Dec 12 election, but appeared to have secured a poll boost on the back of plans to dramatically reshape the British economy.
In a speech in north London on Tuesday, Mr Corbyn said anti-Semitism is "vile and wrong," and pledged to protect "all places of worship" in the UK.
UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis says Labour can "no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism"
"I do think it is a very serious business when the chief rabbi speaks as he does,"Mr Johnson said at an event in Scotland. "I've never known anything like it, and clearly it is a failure of leadership on the part of the Labour leader that he has not been able to stamp out this virus in the Labour Party."
Mr Corbyn's failure to stem anti-semitism in Labour is "cognate with a general failure of leadership that we're seeing at this moment" on Brexit, Mr Johnson said. "You cannot be neutral on something like this any more than you can be neutral, frankly, on anti-Semitism."
It's not just Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party under fire over its record on tackling racism and prejudice. The Muslim Council of Britain - which represents over 500 mosques and charities across the UK - accused the Conservatives of approaching Islamophobia with "denial, dismissal and conceit" in a statement which welcomed the chief rabbi's comments on Labour.
"It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society, and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism" the council said. "It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism."
Mr Johnson was widely criticised for a 2018 newspaper column in which he said Muslim women who wear burqas look like "letter boxes." During the Tory leadership campaign, candidates including Mr Johnson committed to holding an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
An ICM/Reuters poll released Monday put the Conservatives on 41 per cent, Labour on 34 per cent, Liberal Democrats on 13 per cent and the Brexit Party on 4 per cent.