Long-Bailey sacked as shadow education secretary

Sir Keir Starmer said he fired Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article that contained an ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article that contains an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”.

The shadow education secretary today retweeted an interview with the actor Maxine Peake.

In the interview published in The Independent, Ms Peake claimed that the police tactic of kneeling on someone’s neck, which led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, was “learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services”.

Ms Long-Bailey described Ms Peake in her tweet as “an absolute diamond”, but then sought to distance herself from some of the claims in the interview. She subsequently said her tweet “wasn’t intended as an endorsement of all aspects of the article”.

The claim made by Ms Peake has been rejected by Israel.

Ms Long-Bailey had served as shadow education secretary since 6 April 2020, following her defeat in the Labour party leadership election.

She had not been vocal on higher education policies in her three-month tenure, but she did support the abolition of tuition fees during her campaign for the party leadership.

On Thursday 23 April, she called on the government “to underwrite all higher education institutions to secure their future and their role in our economic recovery and acknowledge their contribution to the national effort to fight this pandemic”.

The Labour leader said: “The sharing of that article was wrong… because the article contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and I have therefore stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down from the shadow cabinet.

“I’ve made it my first priority to tackle anti-Semitism and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority for me.”

A replacement shadow education secretary has yet to be appointed. The shadow education team currently comprises Toby Perkins, shadow minister for apprenticeships; Emma Hardy, shadow minister for further education and universities; Margaret Greenwood, shadow minister for schools; and Tulip Siddiq, shadow minister for children and early years.

Read more: I would seek alternative funding model for HE, says shadow universities minister

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