Eddie Izzard has called on Labour to “stamp out the stain of antisemitism” as he replaced a senior party official embroiled in a row over Holocaust “hoax” claims.
The comedian will take a key seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) following the resignation of Christine Shawcroft, a left-wing ally of Jeremy Corbyn, who said she was stepping down as her membership had become a “distraction”.
Ms Shawcroft quit as chair of Labour’s disputes panel last week after it emerged she had opposed the suspension of a council candidate accused of posting a Facebook article describing the Holocaust as a “hoax”. She then had to stand stand down from the NEC on Saturday following intense criticism from Labour MPs and peers.
Labour has been engulfed in a wider row over anti-Jewish sentiment in its ranks, prompting one of its largest donors to quit over what he regards as the leadership’s failure to deal with “blatant acts of antisemitism”.
Mr Izzard was the second most popular candidate in the election for a seat on the NEC and he will hold Ms Shawcroft’s seat until the next election in the summer.
The political activist said: “Although this isn’t the manner in which I had hoped to join the NEC I’m honoured to step up and represent Labour members at the heart of our party.
“This is a very important time for the Labour Party and we must stamp out completely the stain of anti-Semitism from a minority of members. It has no place in our party.
“I have campaigned against hate my whole life and will continue to do so wherever it rears its ugly head.
“We must make amends and repair the damage with the Jewish community as Jeremy Corbyn has promised to do.
“We must get past this, for the good of the people Labour seeks to represent.
“We must unite our party around the platform of hope that Jeremy Corbyn has built so that we can kick out this terrible Tory government and build a Britain for the many not the few.”
Ms Shawcroft, a senior figure in Momentum, caused further anger with a Facebook posting claiming the row about anti-Semitism was being “stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know”.
She said in a statement: “It is clear that my continued membership of the NEC has become a distraction for the party and an excuse for endless intrusive media harassment of myself, my family and friends.
“I reaffirm my complete opposition to antisemitism and my abhorrence of Holocaust denial, and support all measures to tackle this within the party.”
It comes after Mr Corbyn faced protests outside parliament and fierce criticism from senior figures in the Jewish community over claims he has failed to tackle the scourge of antisemitism in the Labour.
The Labour leader promised to be an “ally” to the Jewish community and admitted that “we all need to do better”.
“I am committed to ensuring the Labour Party is a welcoming and secure place for Jewish people,” he said.