The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has declared that he would not hesitate to push back against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn if he were to get into power. This comes in the face of anti-Semitism allegations against both Corbyn and his party.
Audio recordings of Pompeo’s meeting with Jewish leadership in the US were provided to The Washington Post. While it’s not unusual for a president’s staff to meet with religious leaders, the covertness of the gathering raises suspicions. As the president’s highest-ranking staff member, Pompeo carries weight wherever he goes, and his schedule is usually detailed in advance, such as his attendance at the Bilderberg Group meeting last week.
Pompeo fielded questions from Jewish leaders, one of them asking about a hypothetical scenario of Corbyn winning a UK general election. It is not unthinkable that Corbyn could one day occupy 10 Downing Street, a notion that Pompeo is ready to fight.
“It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,” Pompeo responded. “It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”
Last summer, anger was unleashed at Corbyn’s attendance of a 2014 wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia. According to his detractors, the event honoured the terrorists who carried out the 1972 Munich terror attack that saw 11 Israeli Olympians killed. Corbyn denies this, claiming that he attended the ceremony to honour innocent people killed in a 1985 Israeli air strike. At the same time that this outrage took place, a 2013 video emerged wherein Corbyn claimed that Zionists have “no sense of English irony.”
Under Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has garnered universal attention in regards to its anti-semitism scandals. Labour MP Margaret Hodge was disciplined for calling Corbyn a ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semite’, but disciplinary action was ultimately scrapped. In February this year, nine Labour MPs quit the party: Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, and Ann Coffey. Many of these MPs cited anti-semitism and racism within Labour as a main reason to leave the party.
Pompeo’s claims were a moment of staunch support for Boris Johnson. The Secretary of State – and, frankly, most US leadership figures – generally refrain from backing any particular side during foreign elections. While the Labour Party’s struggles certainly merit investigation and perhaps even condemnation, Pompeo’s remarks raise the question of whether or not they were warranted. The US and UK have a storied alliance and, historically, both sides have respected the other’s independence on issues such as these.
However, these are different times and US President Donald Trump likely emboldened Pompeo and other staff by his own statements and leadership style. Trump has often been very public in his support for Johnson.
“I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent,” Trump has said. His comment came after Theresa May resigned from her post as Prime Minister.
The president’s comment rankled Corbyn, who responded, “The next prime minister should be chosen not by the US president, nor by 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative party members, but by the British people in a general election.”
Corbyn has not yet won any general elections – no general election has even been called – yet Pompeo has already declared that he will work against him. The eagerness to rail against the Labour Party is only the latest sign of bias from Washington. Trump’s administration has pushed a hefty pro-Israel agenda, despite publicly seeking a peace plan between Israel and Palestine.
Trump’s moving of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, thereby declaring it the capital, supported Netanyahu’s reclamation of Gaza settlements in 2017. Now his staff is throwing its weight into the UK parliamentary process. Regardless of whether or not it is justified, it creates poor optics, especially in the face of two of Trump’s Middle East desires: an Israel – Palestine peace deal and an Iranian nuclear agreement.
Rampant favoritism of Israel while trying to deal with both Palestinians and Iranians simply isn’t the best foreign policy decision. It threatens to prevent those negotiations from even happening, not to mention earning the ire of the few allies Trump has left in the UK.