Ken Livingstone has quit the Labour party, claiming the row over his alleged anti-semitism had become too much of a ‘distraction’.
The former Mayor of London’s surprise announcement brings to an end a two-year saga during which he repeatedly linked Jews to Hitler and Nazism.
Jeremy Corbyn reacted to the news by saying: “Ken Livingstone’s resignation is sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics, but was the right thing to do.”
Livingstone was suspended in 2016 after making comments suggesting Jews had colloborated with Adolf Hitler in plans to create a homeland in Israel.
He had been due to face a fresh hearing of the disputes panel of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) in July.
Following angry protests from Jewish groups, the Labour leader last month ordered his new general secretary Jennie Formby to make tackling anti-semitism her ‘number one priority’.
Livingstone’s resignation is the second time he has been forced out of the party in his long political career.
He was deemed to have ‘auto-excluded’ himself in 2000, when he stood against Labour’s Frank Dobson to run as an independent in the first race for the capital’s City Hall.
Tony Blair later readmitted him to the party and he won a second term as a Labour candidate.
In an interview with BBC London, Livingstone said he was quitting after his lawyers advised him if he lost his case and was expelled, it would take at least two years before any legal challenge was resolved.
This is a breaking news story... more follows