Keir Starmer has sacked his former leadership rival Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The Leader of the Opposition said Ms Long-Bailey had shared an article on social media which contained an "anti-semitic conspiracy theory".

The MP and party's shadow education secretary had posted an article on Twitter by actor Maxine Peake about why people could not vote for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

The news broke as Mr Starmer was due to take part in an online Q&A with Scottish political journalists. 

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He refused to go into the "ins and outs" of his conversation with Ms Long-Bailey. 

He said: "I'm just very clear about my focus, and that is rebuilding trust with the Jewish community. 

"I do not consider sharing that article furthered the course of rebuilding trust with the Jewish community and that's why I stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down."

Asked if he believed Ms Long-Bailey to be antisemitic, he said: "I asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the Shadow Cabinet for sharing the article. 

"I didn't do that because she is antisemitic. I did it because she shared the article which has got, in my view, antisemitic conspiracy theories in it. 

"My primary focus is on rebuilding trust with the Jewish communities. 

"I didn't think sharing that article was in keeping with that primary objective."

A spokesman for Mr Starmer earlier said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the Shadow Cabinet.

"The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

"As Leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority.

"Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

The article shared by the MP for Salford and Eccles was an interview with Ms Peake in the Independent, discussing a new film, but contained a comparison of US police officers’ treatment of George Floyd to the Israeli secret services.

Ms Peake suggested officers had learned the technique from the Mossad, saying: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

Ms Long-Bailey released a statement on Twitter shortly after the announcement, saying: “I retweeted an interview that my constituent and stalwart Labour Party supporter Maxine Peake gave to the Independent. Its main thrust was anger with the Conservative Government’s handling of the current emergency and a call for Labour Party unity.

“These are sentiments are shared by everyone in our movement and millions of people in our country. I learned that many people were concerned by references to international sharing of training and restraint techniques between police and security forces.

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“In no way was my retweet an intention to endorse every part of that article.

"I wished to acknowledge these concerns and duly issued a clarification of my retweet, with the wording agreed in advance by the Labour Party Leader’s Office, but after posting I was subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet down.

“I could not do this in good conscience without the issuing of a press statement of clarification. I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision.

“I am proud of the policies we have developed within the party from our Green Industrial Revolution to a National Education Service and I will never stop working for the change our communities need to see.

“I am clear that I shall continue to support the Labour Party in Parliament under Keir Starmer’s leadership, to represent the people of Salford and Eccles and work towards a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world."