George Galloway takes Commons seat – without backing from Corbyn

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George Galloway takes Commons seat – without backing from Corbyn

After being sworn in the new MP held a press conference in which he accused Israel of committing 'some of the most foul, atrocious crimes against humanity we’ve seen since WWII'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

George Galloway takes seat in Commons (pic Hoc)
George Galloway takes seat in Commons (pic Hoc)

George Galloway has been introduced back into House of Commons in the traditional ceremony for newly elected MPs – without his trademark hat on his head, and also without the support of Jeremy Corbyn.

Later at a press conference, when asked about comments in which he appeared to compare Israel’s actions in Gaza with the Holocaust he said that Israel was committing “some of the most foul, atrocious crimes against humanity we’ve seen since the Second World War.”

He added of last week’s Rochdale by-election:”If the by-election had been in February of 1940, or 1941, would anyone seriously have condemned me for putting the crimes of the Holocaust at the centre of my election campaign?”

Galloway was sworn into the Commons at 2.30pm on Monday having sworn an oath of allegiance that allows him to now take his seat.

Jewish News watched the short ceremony alongside the other Westminster journalists from the press gallery above the Chamber.

As Galloway walked up to shake Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s hand, the new MP was reminded that he had “probably signed in more than anybody else” , having previously been a Labour and Respect Party representative in the past.

But in a snub for Galloway, his claim that he would be introduced into the Commons by the respected Tory grandee David Davis, and the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, proved to be a false one.

Instead he escorted into the Commons by Sir Peter Bottomley, the Conservative MP who is father of the house, and Neale Hanvey, the leader of the Alba party (Alex Salmond’s fringe Scottish nationalist party), who were acting as Galloway ‘s joint sponsors.

Bottomley, who was duty bound to carry out the ceremony, noticeably wore a tie in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. A clear message to Galloway, who has faced claims of being a Putin apologist.

Corbyn was not in the Chamber for the ceremony at the start of Monday’s proceedings. But Diane Abbott, also currently without the Labour whip, was.

At a press conference after he was sworn in Galloway was asked by Jewish News about the snub he had received from Corbyn.

He reused to answer the question.

Earlier he claimed: “Jeremy Corbyn was supposed to be my sponsor but then he realised he had a long standing commitment”

But Jewish News understands there have been tensions between both camps, with Galloway supporters, including the disgraced MP Chris Williamson, claiming Corbyn failed to let him or his leader speak at a Palestine demo in Birmingham in January.

Galloway had infamously claimed his easy by-election victory last week was “for Gaza.”

The new MP also claimed his Workers Party of Britain would stand a candidate to challenge Angela Rayner in her constituency at the election.

“There are many constituencies in London … Bethnal Green in the heart of the City of London, in Birmingham, in other parts of the West Midlands, in north-west England, in the towns around Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn, Burnley, Nelson, Bury,” he said.

Galloway said his first speech in the Commons will be about Gaza, and he said genocide is taking place there.

He responded to questions about Israel, saying “Israel exists, it’s not up to me,” but repeating his claim that “no state has the right to exist — not the Soviet Union, not Czechoslovakia, not the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

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