JEREMY Corbyn was yet again on the back foot over claims of anti-Semitism within Labour as he declared that any form of racism was an evil in society and he would “die an anti-racist”.

After a bumpy start to the election campaign for the Conservatives – the profound apology from Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg over his crass and insensitive comments about the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and the resignation of Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns over the rape trial row – it was the turn of the Labour leadership to experience some election turmoil.

Just as Boris Johnson tried to steady his “Con Air” campaign plane, it was Labour’s turn to experience some early election turbulence.

While the shock departure of Tom Watson might have been less a blow for Mr Corbyn than some of his more centrist comrades, the personal onslaught by disaffected ex-Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock coupled with the excoriating attack by the Jewish Chronicle simply reopened a political wound the party leadership had hoped was healing.

Mr Austin and Mr Watson were close allies of Gordon Brown. The former was the ex-premier’s press secretary while the latter was regarded as a key ally in helping the Scot push Tony Blair out of Downing St.

The appearance of Mr Austin on the airwaves doing his best to bury Mr Corbyn’s chances of entering No 10 would have infuriated Labour high command.

In a sometimes emotional intervention, the former Dudley MP whose adoptive parents were Czech Jewish refugees who lost relatives in the Holocaust, said: "Anybody who has spoken to Tom knows what he thinks about Jeremy Corbyn.

"More importantly, they know how appalled he is, like so many other people, by the scandal of anti-Semitism that has poisoned the Labour Parry under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership."

He told Sky News the Labour leader was “unfit to lead the country,” stressing: “The country faces a big choice. There are only two people who can be PM on December 13. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion it can’t be Jeremy Corbyn and so on that basis people should vote for Boris Johnson.”

Later, Mr Austin was joined by Mr Woodcock at the launch of a poster by the Mainstream campaign. Its message was not subtle: "Jeremy Corbyn: a disgrace to his party, a disgrace to this country."

If that was not bad enough the Jewish Chronicle launched its own ferocious attack on Mr Corbyn, insisting how the “vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an anti-Semite”.

After the day it had had, Conservative HQ could not believe its luck.

Rishi Sunak, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was quick off the mark to respond to Mr Austin’s intervention, declaring: "This is a truly devastating indictment of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.”

Describing it as “another hammer-blow,” to the Labour leader’s authority after the departure of his deputy Mr Watson, the Cabinet minister added: "Corbyn's MPs are saying what we all know: he is unfit to be Prime Minister."

James Cleverley, the Tory Chairman, responded to the Jewish Chronicle’s broadside, saying it showed “how far the Labour Party has fallen under Corbyn's feeble leadership".

He claimed the Labour leader could “not possibly be a fit and proper person to lead the country when an entire community is scared of the idea of him walking through the door of No 10”.

Labour’s anger and exasperation was vented by John McDonnell, who had been making a speech in Liverpool about Labour’s plans for large-scale investment in Britain’s infrastructure.

The Shadow Chancellor said of Mr Austin, who became the Government’s trade envoy to Israel under Theresa May: "He's now employed by the Tories: what else do you expect him to do in an election campaign where you're employed by the Tories, you speak on behalf of the Tories. That's what this was about this morning."

He said Labour was “saddened” by the Jewish Chronicle’s attack but insisted it was behind the times, stressing: “I just say to them, look, have a look again at the reality of what we've done, because actually we've done everything asked of us."

Later, Labour HQ insisted anti-Semitism had “no place” in the party’s ranks and it was “fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community".

Yet last night it emerged Scottish Labour had lost a second election candidate following a row over anti-Semitism, prompting the SNP to claim Scottish Labour's campaign was “on the verge of total collapse”.

As the political media storm continued, Mr Corbyn once again had to defend himself against the anti-Semitism charge.

But he declared forcefully: “Anti-Semitism is a poison and an evil in our society. Any form of racism is a poison and evil in society. I have spent my whole life fighting against racism. I will die an anti-racist.”

Noting how Labour had “confronted the issue,” the party leader said: “There are many Jewish people in this country who are members of Labour Party, supporters of the Labour Party, work with the Labour Party and they do not share the views that have been put forward on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle.”

Mr Corbyn, who seems inspired and energised by the campaign speeches he gives before the party faithful, appeared undaunted by yet more political flak, insisting as he prepared for a rally in Manchester: “I am loving this election campaign.”