'Jeremy Corbyn today faced growing calls to act against a close ally who claimed the party had been “too apologetic” in its response to allegations of anti-Semitism.
The dismissive comment by left-wing MP Chris Williamson triggered a torrent of anger from party grandees.
Former leader Ed Miliband said they brought Labour “into disrepute” while deputy leader Tom Watson said Mr Williamson should be suspended.
But despite calls for suspension or expulsion from at least a dozen MPs and senior figures, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and a trade union leader, there was no immediate announcement of tough action from Mr Corbyn against the MP.
Mr Williamson said he deeply regretted his words and apologised.
The Derby North MP and Corbyn ally sparked controversy when he was filmed making the remarks at an event hosted by the Corbynite supporters’ group Momentum.
He was applauded by audience of activists in Sheffield when he played down the crisis caused by anti-Semitic attacks by Labour supporters on Jewish MPs and members.'
A personal message and sincere apology from me regarding my recent remarks on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. pic.twitter.com/2qaNCOVqGk
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) February 27, 2019
The MP claimed the Labour Party was being “demonised as a racist party” and had “given too much ground” to its critics.
A Labour spokesman said: “These comments are deeply offensive and inappropriate and fall below the standards we expect of MPs.
“Downplaying the problem of anti-Semitism makes it harder for us to tackle it. Chris Williamson should apologise immediately and withdraw his remarks.”
Mr Watson, who has vowed to personally monitor anti-Semitism complaints - which some have seen as a challenge to Mr Corbyn’s handling of the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis - today called for his suspension.
Read more: MP Chris Williamson apologises over anti-Semitism remark as pressure mounts on Jeremy Corbyn to act