Corbyn shadow cabinet ally calls for Assad “to be removed”

Kate Osamor, a key shadow cabinet ally of Jeremy Corbyn, has called for intervention in Syria, suggested Jeremy Corbyn should not make statements on foreign policy and hinted Labour could back a boycott of Israel - all in the same interview. 

Speaking to The House magazine, the in-house journal for MPs, the Shadow International Development Secretary:

– Called for Bashar al-Assad to be “removed” and says “intervention must take place” if evidence shows his regime was behind the chemical attack in Douma

– Said Jeremy Corbyn should stop commenting on foreign policy and ‘just let his spokesperson speak’

– Suggested Labour could support a boycott of Israel in the future

– Said Prince Charles should not succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth

The comments will not be welcomed by the Labour leader at the end of a difficult week that began with Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner calling one of Labour’s Brexit tests “bollocks” and continued with the Israeli Labour Party leader cutting ties with Corbyn.


KATE OSAMOR ON… Removing Assad

“That person needs to be removed. I mean, intervention must take place if evidence comes back that the PM or the president or whoever the leader is, is gassing his own people. Get them out.

“But I suppose what we’ve seen is it’s not as easy as that. And I think that’s where Jeremy’s position comes from. It’s not as easy as just removing someone.

“I think that’s what needs to happen. They always seem to abscond, end up in another country. This world is messed up. It’s not easy. But if a leader is killing their own they need to be removed. We don’t keep them there. They need to go. He needs to be removed.

“But how do you remove someone? I’m saying this almost as a layman, but I know politically you can’t just remove somebody who is elected.”

KATE OSAMOR ON…. Jeremy Corbyn making foreign policy statements

Asked about Jeremy Corbyn commenting on the situation in Gaza, while Labour attributed a statement on Syria to a ‘spokesperson’: 

“First and foremost, he should allow the spokesperson for that department really to respond. It’s not that he shouldn’t have said it [Corbyn’s statement on Gaza]. But if that’s what he’s being assessed on – that’s what he’s being judged on – then he should just let his spokesperson speak because it seems that whatever he says is not good enough – it’s too strong or it’s not strong enough.

“When actually, he’s the leader. So, it should be Emily or me, whoever, should be responding. And maybe that’s what he should do.”

She added: “It’s much more serious than whether or not Jeremy has made a statement or not. It’s about the fact that this has taken place and what are the government doing.

“We don’t want this to be about the British media and Jeremy, which it has become, as opposed to that people are being gassed, people are being shot or whatever and the Government has decided this is what they need to do.

“And it takes the Government off the hook because the media then talk about Jeremy’s response when is he is the leader of the Opposition. And even if he was unequivocal ‘he actually is not the prime minister or he’s not the foreign secretary’ or whatever.”

KATE OSAMOR ON… Prince Charles succeeding the Queen as head of the Commonwealth

“I don’t particularly think it should be him. Not because I have an issue with the royal family. I just don’t think it should be him. I don’t really know what he’s been up to of late. He’s not been that vocal on issues.

“But we just need someone who’s level-headed, someone people respect but also someone who thinks outside the box.”

KATE OSAMOR ON… Boycotting Israel

Asked whether Labour could support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as official party policy:

“I think we need to open up the debate before we start saying what we should be doing. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not really educated on illegal settlements, people don’t understand what’s really going on, and it’s gone over their head. ‘It’s BDS, who cares, what’s that got to do with anything?’

“But I think we need to get to a place where we start educating everybody and make a decision based on that and then say, ‘this could be an alternative, this could be an option’.

“I would not say at this point in opposition we should be planning around boycotting without educating a whole generation that have missed out on that and don’t understand what’s going on.

“There’s a level of education that needs to take place first and I would more be an advocate of that than actually worrying about BDS or not because a lot of people aren’t educated and haven’t made a decision based on that.

“That’s not the biggest issue for me. The biggest issue for me is educating people around conflict across the globe and finding a place where we can get some resolution for people.”

Asked about Tom Watson’s claim that the BDS movement was ‘morally wrong’:

“Sometimes people make statements but then they don’t look about the history around apartheid around separation, around people living side by side. If anything there’s a different treatment for one over another and boycotting products. South African produce, when we look at that, did make a difference and it raised awareness. And for me it’s about raising awareness and bringing more people to a place where they understand ‘what can I do to help’.

“At the end of the day it is choice. It’s up to you what produce you buy. That’s very different to me saying that they are not allowed to make produce. I am saying people should not buy those produce from illegal settlements. If you chose to it’s up to you.”

Osamor’s interventions – although doubtless well-intentioned – are unlikely to be welcome by Corbyn and his team.

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