Britain’s opposition Labour Party could “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame”, warned the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson. He was referring to party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial stance over anti-Semitism.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper, Watson took aim at Corbyn saying the party had to “take a long, hard look at ourselves, stand up for what is right and present the party as fit to lead the nation – or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment”.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Jewish groups have criticised Corbyn for what they describe as his tolerance of anti-Semitism in Labour.

“I think it’s very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement,” said Watson.

However, Corbyn appealed to Jewish members on August 5, using a video message to press his pledge to drive anti-Semitism out of the party “for good” after a similar attempt fell flat for several Jewish groups. For instance, the Jewish Labour Movement called for action, not words.

In his message, Corbyn apologised for the hurt caused to many Jewish people and pledged to speed up disciplinary cases in Labour to drive out anti-Semitism.

“People who use anti-Semitic poison need to understand: You do not do it in my name, or the name of my party. You are not our supporters,” he said.