Members of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet are reportedly in discussion with members of the British Parliament plotting a leadership challenge amid an escalating “anti-Semitism” dispute engulfing the Labour Party.
Concerned that the row would wreck the party's electoral fortunes next week, senior figures in Britain’s opposition party are now discussing the possibility of an “attempted coup” against Corbyn, the party's leader, The Independent reported.
The dispute escalated this week, forcing the Labour Party to take a series of steps days before it contests elections in London, Scotland and Wales.
Corbyn was forced to suspend his close ally Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, on Thursday after he was labeled a “disgusting Nazi apologist.”
Livingstone created a political firestorm earlier in the day by criticizing the British media for ignoring the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians as well as implying that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.
In an interview with the BBC, the veteran politician also defended Naz Shah, a member of parliament, who resigned this week after she was forced to apologize for backing calls for Israel to “relocate” to the United States.
“When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel,” he said.
Livingstone, who has led the party twice, defended his remarks on Saturday, saying they were historic facts. He suggested that the comments had been used by supporters of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Labour Party to discredit Corbyn.
As the controversy deepened on Friday, David Abrahams, a major party donor, called for Corbyn to resign, saying “Labour needs strong leadership.”
The party has launched an inquiry into how to tackle the issue. The probe will be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of civil rights charity Liberty.
Corbyn said in a statement that he would propose a new code of conduct banning any forms of racism in his party.
“There is no place for anti-Semitism or any form of racism in the Labour Party, or anywhere in society,” he said.