A FORMER Labour minister has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “poisoning” the party with “extremism” during a heated Brexit debate.
In a blistering attack Independent MP Ian Austin described the Labour leader as “completely unfit to lead” the party and accused him of “dragging it into the mud”.
During tonight’s debate about the rule of law, Mr Austin tore into Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, accusing the pair of “supporting terrorists and anti-Semites” and honouring the IRA.
Mr Austin was heckled by Labour MPs during his speech, which was made in an emergency Commons debate on the importance of the rule of law.
Mr Corbyn insisted a new rebel law to block No Deal on October 31 must be in place before any election takes place.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Austin said: “It is absolutely incredible to hear the Leader of the Opposition lecturing anybody else about upholding the rule of law.”
To heckles from his former Labour colleagues, he added: “They’re going to have to get used to it, because they’re going to have to explain to their constituents in an election campaign why they think someone with an appalling record like the Leader of the Opposition is fit to lead.”
Mr Austin continued: “I’m standing here because I left the Labour Party to shine a spotlight on the disgrace it has become under his leadership, and because I regard myself as proper, decent traditional Labour, not like the extremists who have taken over this party and are dragging it into the mud.”
He added: “These are people, the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow chancellor, these are people who have spent their entire time in politics working with, defending all sorts of extremists – and in some cases terrorists and anti-Semites.”
Mr Austin cited actions and comments from Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell linked to the IRA.
He said: “The shadow chancellor said that ‘those people involved in the armed struggle’ – people he said had used ‘bombs and bullets’ – should be honoured.
“And they have the brass neck to lecture anybody about the rule of law. What a disgrace.”
In 2017, Mr McDonnell apologised for his remarks and said he did “everything I possibly could to secure the peace process in Northern Ireland and at times that was contentious”.
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Mr Austin then became embroiled in a heated spat with Labour’s Liz McInnes in which she questioned “why don’t you stand over there” and pointed at the Tory benches.
Continuing his attack Mr Austin said: “They don’t believe in the rule of law abroad either. They always back the wrong side, whether it’s the IRA or Hamas or Hezbollah – who they describe as friends.
“No previous Labour leader would have supported brutal totalitarian dictatorships like the ones in Cuba or Venezuela.
“And no previous Labour leadership would have allowed a party with a proud history of fighting racial prejudice to have been poisoned by racism, which is what’s happened under these people.”
Mr Austin added: “These people and the people around them are a million miles away from the traditional, mainstream, decent politics of the Labour Party.
“They have poisoned what was once a great party with extremism.
“They cannot be trusted with the institutions that underpin our democracy, they are completely unfit to lead the Labour Party, let alone our country.”