Richard Burgon has released a statement after being caught bang to rights lying about whether he had said “Zionism is the enemy of peace”. Instead of apologising for lying on national TV, the Shadow Justice Secretary, also a qualified solicitor, tries to weasel out of it in a comically contrived way:
“I believed it was inaccurate to have claimed that I had used that phrase. It is now clear that I did and I regret doing so.”
In normal times a Shadow Cabinet Minister would have to apologise profusely for repeatedly lying to the public and seriously consider their position. Instead Corbyn is just allowing bungling Burgon to go blustering on…
Read the full statement below:
“When it was put to me in August 2018 that I had made these remarks I did not recall doing so and therefore asked for the full quotes to be provided to me, and asked when and where I had said it. I received no reply, so I believed it was inaccurate to have claimed that I had used that phrase. It is now clear that I did and I regret doing so.
“As I have subsequently said on numerous occasions when asked about this, I do not agree with that phrase. I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law, and those, such as the current Israeli government, which is undermining efforts towards peace.
“The terminology has different meanings to different people and the simplistic language used does not reflect how I now think about this complex issue and I would not use it again today. It is being reported that I made those remarks in 2014, which was before I was elected as an MP.
“In the meeting, I was criticising Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its aggressive expansionist policies. In the video I made it explicitly clear that I was of course not speaking about Jewish people. As I believed then and believe now, when discussing the issue of Israel and Palestine, you must clearly distinguish between the actions of a particular Israeli government and Jewish people as a whole.
“I have always stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in opposition to illegal occupation and discrimination and I will continue to do so in the search for a peaceful solution to decades of conflict. It is essential that the Labour movement work with Israeli and Palestinian people towards achieving a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestine. I have myself, when I was in Israel, met with Israeli peace and human rights groups and Members of the Israeli Parliament to this effect.”
UPDATE: Former Labour MP turned independent Ian Austin says “No previous Labour leadership would have put up with someone saying this and being caught out denying it. How can someone who wants to be the country’s most senior law officer behave like this and not resign? How can his party not sack him? How long will Labour MPs put up with it?”