Moves to hold a vote of no confidence in Labour MP and outspoken leadership critic Luciana Berger have triggered a heated row in party ranks.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson intervened in the controversy to offer his support to Ms Berger in what he called her battle against “bullying hatred” from members of her local party.
The comments came after shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested the move to censure the MP was due to concern she may join a breakaway party, not over her attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism.
Mr Watson told the Commons that Ms Berger had his “solidarity” in the showdown.
Ms Berger, who is Jewish, has been highly critical of Mr Corbyn over how he has dealt with the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, as well as his positioning on Brexit.
A number of senior Labour MPs have rallied behind Ms Berger after it emerged the Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party has called an extraordinary meeting for February 17 to discuss two no-confidence motions.
Mr Watson said: “Let us not forget our honourable colleagues on both sides of this House, the subject of death threats, the subject of racist abuse, the subject of misogynistic abuse, the subject of bullying and anti-Semitism.
“As deputy leader of my party let me say to the honourable colleagues facing that abuse and in particular my friend and comrade the member of Liverpool Wavertree (Ms Berger) that she has our solidarity and she has our support as she battles the bullying hatred from members of her own local party.
“They bring disgrace to the party that I love.”
Earlier, Mr McDonnell called on Ms Berger to make clear she is not planning to “jump ship”.
The shadow chancellor told Sky News: “If people are saying ‘look, we are expressing a vote of no confidence because Luciana has stood up and exposed anti-Semitism in our party’, that would be completely wrong and, of course, we would say that is not right.
“But it looks as though there’s other issues.
“It seems on social media, from what I’ve seen, what’s happened is Luciana has been associated in the media with a breakaway party.
“Some local party members, the media, have asked her to deny that. She hasn’t been clear in that.
“So my advice really, on all of this, is for Luciana to just put this issue to bed.
“Say very clearly ‘no, I’m not supporting another party, I’m not jumping ship’.”
Mr McDonnell added: “It’s not a deselection from what I understand. It’s a vote of no confidence, which is simply an expression by local party members.”
The shadow chancellor’s comments drew direct criticism from some Labour MPs.
Chuka Umunna said there should be pressure put on Ms Berger’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to treat the MP with respect.
Mr Umunna tweeted: “So a victim of outrageous racism in @UKLabour must promise she will not walk because of that racism and then this can all go away.
“How about demanding her CLP treats her with the respect she deserves. How about the party deals with that racism. Words fail me. Totally unacceptable.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner offered Ms Berger her backing for speaking out against anti-Semitism when asked on Twitter by Mr Umunna what she thought of the situation.
Ms Rayner tweeted: “I don’t know what’s happening in Luciana’s constituency but she has my full support in speaking out and stamping out the racism and antisemitism that’s in our party & wider community.”
The founder of the Corbyn-backing Momentum movement, Jon Lansman, called for “solidarity” with Ms Berger, tweeting: “We are a political party. The messages we send to voters are important.
“Whether you agree with her politics or not, whether you think she is the best possible MP for her constituency or not, she’s suffered appalling abuse. Must we always agree with people to show solidarity?”
Ms Berger’s stance on anti-Semitism has seen her face a torrent of abuse from online trolls and she required a police escort at last year’s Labour Party conference after receiving death threats.
The move against Ms Berger comes after she joined other MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday in calling for details on the party’s efforts to tackle anti-Semitism to be released.