Two no-confidence motions against Labour MP Luciana Berger after she campaigned against antisemitism have been withdrawn.
Labour Party members from Ms Berger’s Liverpool Wavertree constituency had called an extraordinary meeting for 17 February to discuss the no-confidence motions in the MP, who has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the party’s antisemitism row.
But on Friday the local party announced that the meeting would now not take place and the motions have been withdrawn by the members who proposed them.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has now called for Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party to be suspended – describing their behaviour as “intolerable”.
In a letter to general secretary Jennie Formby, he wrote: “It is clear to me that Luciana Berger is being bullied.
“This behaviour by her local party is intolerable. The actions of her constituency are not only threatening towards Luciana personally but are bringing our party into disrepute.
“I am therefore requesting that you take the necessary steps to suspend Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party.”
Ms Berger had won the support of her senior colleagues, including Mr Watson, who appeared to make a very different statement in the Commons to that from shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Mr Watson, the deputy leader, said Labour Party members who bully Ms Berger “bring disgrace to the party that I love”.
But this morning, Mr McDonnell was reluctant to explicitly back her, saying she should offer assurances to her constituency members to resolve the issues.
Mr McDonnell pointed out that Ms Berger had not been facing a deselection process, but that the matter had been “simply an expression by local party members”.
He said: “If people are saying we are doing it because she has stood up and exposed antisemitism, that would be wrong and we would say that is not right.
“But it looks like there are other issues, from what I’ve seen on social media.
“Luciana has been associated with a breakaway party, and the media has asked her to deny it, as well as party members – she hasn’t been clear in that.
“My advice is for Luciana to put this issue to bed, and say clearly that she is not supporting another party, not jumping ship and for local party members to say how can we support you and work together in the future and overcome the present difficulties.”
Speaking in the House of Commons after the second reading of a bill to ensure museums in Britain can return items stolen by the Nazis, Mr Watson said the bill was borne out of a “commitment to oppose antisemitism” in all its forms in all institutions.
He added: “Let us not forget our honourable colleagues, on both sides of the house, subject to death threats, subject to racist abuse, subject to misogynistic abuse, subject to bullying, subject to antisemitism.
“As deputy leader of my party let me say to those facing that abuse, and especially to my friend and comrade for Liverpool Wavertree, she has our solidarity and our support as she battles the bullying hatred from members of her own local party.”
Ms Berger has criticised Mr Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism within the Labour Party, and she has faced a torrent of online abuse. She needed a police escort to travel around her own party conference last year after receiving death threats.
Ed Miliband gave his support to her, saying: “She is a powerful advocate on mental health and against antisemitism. She should be supported not undermined by everyone throughout our party.”
Yvette Cooper said: “Solidarity with Luciana Berger – a brilliant Labour MP, rightly campaigning against antisemitism both in our party and across the country and one of our most powerful voices campaigning on mental health.
“Entire party should support her.”
According to the Liverpool Echo, both motions had been similarly worded, and said: “Wavertree CLP has no confidence in Luciana Berger as our representative in parliament.”
The motions had accused her of using the media to criticise “the man we want to be prime minister” and “continuously criticising our leader when she should be working for a general election”.
The motions came soon after Ms Berger called on the Parliamentary Labour Party to give more details on the efforts to tackle antisemitism.
In a statement, the MP said: “I have made no secret that, as a Jewish woman representing a city with a Jewish community, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of response from Jeremy Corbyn as party leader and many in the wider leadership to the antisemitism that stains our party.
“I am deeply disturbed at the leadership’s desire to brush this aside and its decision not to comply with the expressed wish of Labour MPs.
“Nothing will deter me from exposing antisemitism wherever it festers, including in the Labour Party where it is being wilfully ignored.”
A Labour Party source said: “Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that no one should be criticised for speaking out against antisemitism.”