UK Politics

Labour peer Baroness Hayter sacked for 'last days of Hitler' jibe

Baroness Hayter Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Baroness Hayter remains Labour's elected deputy leader in the House of Lords

A senior Labour peer has been sacked as shadow Brexit minister for saying Jeremy Corbyn was leading the party with a "bunker mentality".

Baroness Hayter said Mr Corbyn's team's refusal to acknowledge criticism - such as of the party's handling of allegations of anti-Semitism - was similar to the "last days of Hitler".

A Labour spokesman described her remarks as "deeply offensive".

The peer remains Labour's elected deputy leader in the House of Lords.

At a meeting of the centre-left Labour First group earlier this week, Baroness Hayter was reported by HuffPost to have said: "Those of you who haven't [read the book] will have seen the film Bunker, about the last days of Hitler, where you stop receiving any information into the inner group which suggests that things are not going the way you want."

The peer was critical of Mr Corbyn's inner circle, who she claimed had refused to give the party's ruling National Executive Committee key information on party finances, membership figures and anti-Semitism data.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Dianne Hayter has been sacked from her frontbench position with immediate effect for her deeply offensive remarks about Jeremy Corbyn and his office.

"To compare the Labour leader and Labour Party staff working to elect a Labour government to the Nazi regime is truly contemptible, and grossly insensitive to Jewish staff in particular."

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said "at first glance" it looked as if Mr Corbyn was cracking down on the type of language used by Baroness Hayter.

"But the person who made those comments has been one of the those more prominent critics of Mr Corbyn," he said.

"What this will look like is Mr Corbyn wanting to take out some of his more prominent critics."

Labour MP Wes Streeting, a critic of Mr Corbyn, tweeted that the sacking was a "gross over-reaction" to the comments, but said it did "reinforce what she did describe, which was a bunker mentality at the top".

"Nice to know that swift action is taken to protect Jeremy Corbyn's feelings, but shame we can't act against racists," he said.

The peer's sacking is the latest development in Labour's long-running dispute over anti-Semitism, which has led to MPs and peers quitting the party.

Baroness Hayter was one of four peers who wrote to Mr Corbyn to call for an investigation into claims aired in a BBC Panorama programme that senior figures in the party interfered in the disciplinary process of dealing with anti-Semitism complaints.

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Media captionMay and Corbyn both went on the attack in relation to their anti-racism records

Earlier on Wednesday, 67 of Baroness Hayter's fellow Labour peers took out a newspaper advert accusing Mr Corbyn of "failing the test of leadership" over the issue of anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May said it was a "disgrace" Mr Corbyn had "dodged his responsibility" for tackling anti-Jewish prejudice.

The Labour leader insisted he was "dealing" with the issue and accused Mrs May of failing to address her own party's problems with Islamophobia.

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