Jewish campaigners tore into Jeremy Corbyn today after he mis-pronounced the name of notorious society paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in front of millions of people on live television.
The Labour leader was accused of trying to make the American child abuser – who killed himself in prison earlier this year – sound ‘more Jewish’ in the ITV leaders’ debate.
During the prime time show last night he called the convicted sex offender ‘Ep-schtine’, sparking fury on social media – after Boris Johnson pronounced Epstein correctly.
It came up when they were asked about the scandal surrounding Mr Epstein’s friend Prince Andrew after a car-crash interview at the weekend.
A spokesman for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s risible attempt to deceive viewers about his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis was compounded by his bizarre and inconsistent pronunciation of the Jewish surname of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, referring to him at one point as ”Ep-shtein”.
‘Mr Corbyn’s abhorrent record on Jews certainly raises questions as to whether the Labour leader was attempting to underscore Mr Epstein’s Jewishness.’
The programme was watched by more than seven million people at its peak, with an average audience of 6.7million.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised last night for the way he pronounced ‘Epstein’ in the live TV debate
In contrast Boris Johnson (pictured today at a washing machine factory) used the regular American-style pronunciation
The Labour leader’s tenure has been dogged by an anti-Semitism crisis.
The Labour leader and Prime Minister answered questions on the billionaire predator and his relationship with Prince Andrew during the live head-to-head.
Both expressed sympathy for the victims of Epstein, the convicted sex offender who killed himself while facing trafficking charges.
David Baddiel led criticism of Jeremy Corbyn for his pronunciation. When Twitter user Alec Feldman speculated that the Labour leader had made Epstein sound ‘more Jewish’, the comedian and writer tweeted: ‘Every Jew watching noticed that.’
And Jewish Tory peer Lord Finkelstein said that ‘calling me Finkel SHTEIN is one of my tests’ for anti-Semitism.
Viewers at home branded Corbyn an anti-Semite, with one nicknaming him ‘Jezbollah’ in a reference to his past remarks about his ‘friends’ in the Islamist paramilitary group Hezbollah.
Why are people saying ‘Epshtein’ is anti-Semitic?
Critics have accused Jeremy Corbyn of making Jeffrey Epstein appear ‘more Jewish’ by pronouncing his name ‘shtein’.
The Germanic pronunciation traces its roots to the 19th century – when the Prussian and Austro-Hungarian empires forced Jews to take a German surname.
Critics says by using the German pronunciation, Corbyn emphasized the American Epstein’s Jewishness by linking it to the persecution of the Jews in Europe.
As some people leapt to the politician’s defence, Twitter user @leekern13 wrote: ‘To the idiots saying we should pronounce things the way they are spoken in their country – He was an AMERICAN.
‘He was born in New York. He wasn’t German of generic ‘Jew’- he was American and his name was Epstein. Corbyn tried to emphasise aliens. He otherised Jews. Again.’
During the debate, Mr Corbyn tried to squash accusations that his party has failed to root out anti-Semites.
The Labour leader said anti-Semitism was ‘an absolute evil and scourge within our society’ while insisting the party was treating the issue ‘very, very seriously’.
But to many people, his promises fell flat and were rounded upon by both rivals and members of his own party.
Mr Johnson confronted his opposite number on the ITV stage about the issue, claiming: ‘It’s a complete failure of leadership what’s happened with anti-Semitism, but the failure of leadership is even worse when you look at what is happening on their Brexit policy.’
Chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement Peter Mason was scathing about his party leader’s ‘disgraceful’ response to internal racism
And chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement Peter Mason was scathing about his party leader’s ‘disgraceful’ response to internal racism.
Tory candidate who criticised ‘brainwashed Jews’ is suspended
A Tory candidate who claimed British Jews who visited Israel returned ‘brainwashed’ has been suspended from the party.
Amjad Bashir, who is standing for election in the Leeds North East constituency, apologised this week for the comments and said he intends to meet local Jewish groups and travel to Israel ‘to gain direct experience from the situation on the ground there’.
A Conservative spokesman said: ‘Mr Bashir has been suspended from the party pending investigation and election support has been withdrawn.’
A pro-Brexit restaurateur, Mr Bashir was elected as a Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber in 2014 before he defected to the Conservatives in 2015.
Reacting to a clip of Mr Corbyn insisting he has ‘taken action’ to rid Labour of anti-Semitism, he tweeted: ‘This is a lie There are at least 130 outstanding antisemitism cases, some dating back years, that still haven’t been dealt with.
‘The Party haven’t bothered to investigate the cases properly or make decisions.
‘Corbyn and Labour’s total failure to deal with antisemites has seen it be investigated by the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] for institutional anti-Jewish racism.’
Accusations of anti-Semitism have dogged Mr Corbyn since he became leader in 2015, and earlier this year saw six Labour MPs quit the party.
The fury came after Johnson and Corbyn refused to back Prince Andrew when asked whether of not he is fit for purpose during their leadership debate.
During a quickfire round the last segment of the debate on ITV, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were asked about the Duke of York.
It comes as the prince is facing heavy criticism this week over his friendship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Hosting Tuesday night’s leadership debate in Salford, Julie Etchingham asked the Labour and Tory leaders: ‘Is Prince Andrew fit for purpose?’
Corbyn said: ‘Before we discuss Prince Andrew, I think we should discuss the victims that are there because of what Epstein was doing and I think there are very, very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law.’
Pictured: Prince Andrew and his friend, Jeffrey Epstein walking through New York
Johnson said: ‘All our sympathy should be with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein and the law must certainly take its course.’
It came as follow-up to a question sent in by a viewer watching at home. The original question sent in to ITV was: ‘Is the Monarchy fit for purpose.’
Corbyn fired back that it ‘needs a bit of improvement’ but Johnson followed with ‘the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach’.
Since Andrew’s Newsnight appearance five huge names – including Aon and KPMG – dropped their financial backing for his charity. He spoke with Emily Maitlis in the interview, which aired on the BBC on Saturday.
In the interview, Andrew denied having sex with Epstein trafficking victim Virginia Roberts, who said she slept with when she was 17.
In his car crash interview, Andrew questioned whether a picture showing him with Ms Roberts – now Giuffre – was accurately showing him with his hand around her waist at the London home of Epstein’s girlfriend.
Viewers responded with fury at his claims, which included that he wasn’t sure whether it was taken in London because he wasn’t wearing a full suit.
Debate viewers hammer Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit: 63% say Boris Johnson won EU clashes in TV showdown and just 8% of Leave voters favoured Labour leader – while the Tory leader came out as most ‘prime ministerial’
Boris Johnson has emerged as the winner of the TV debate on the key Brexit battleground – as it was revealed that 6.7million people watched the historic showdown.
After the Labour leader refused nine times to say whether he backed Leave or Remain, nearly two-thirds of viewers said the PM triumphed in the clashes over EU policy. Just 27 per cent thought Mr Corbyn came out on top.
Mr Johnson was also a long way ahead on who was more ‘prime ministerial’ – by 54 per cent to 29 per cent, according to a snap YouGov poll in the wake of the hour-long ITV special. He was also regarded as more ‘likeable’ and better on government spending.
However, in a warning sign for the Tories, Mr Corbyn was seen as marginally more trustworthy – by 45 per cent to 40 per cent and much more in touch with ‘ordinary people’.
He also outperformed Mr Johnson in the NHS exchanges, by 54 per cent to 38 per cent.
Overall the poll found the pair fought each other almost to a standstill, with 51 per cent of those surveyed saying Mr Johnson was victorious and 49 per cent Mr Corbyn.
It was disclosed today that the ITV programme was watched by 6.7million viewers, with the peak figures coming between 8.50pm and 8.55pm – just before the start of I’m A Celebrity…
As the campaign for the election on December 12 stepped up a gear last night, the PM insisted he was determined to ‘get Brexit done’, and warned that all Labour had to offer was ‘dither and delay, deadlock and division’ by calling a second referendum.
‘We don’t know on which side Mr Corbyn will campaign. Will he campaign for Leave or Remain?’ he demanded, saying there was a ‘void at the heart of his policy.’
The audience in Salford laughed when Mr Corbyn claimed to have been ‘clear’ despite repeatedly ducking the question on which side he would support in a new ballot.
After Jeremy Corbyn refused nine times to say whether he backed Leave or Remain, a YouGov poll found nearly two-thirds of viewers thought Boris Johnson triumphed in the clashes over EU policy, right. Just 27 per cent thought Mr Corbyn came out on top. In the graph on the left, 51 per cent thought Mr Johnson triumphed overall, with 49 per cent saying Mr Corbyn came out on top
The premier also laid into the veteran left-winger for doing a ‘deal’ with Nicola Sturgeon, saying he would need SNP support to govern – and was willing to meet their red line of allowing a new Scottish independence referendum.
And he said there had been a ‘failure in leadership’ by Mr Corbyn in tackling a wave of vile anti-Semitism that has been wracking his party.
But in bad-tempered exchanges – with each frequently being told off by presenter Julie Etchingham for overrunning their 30 seconds for an initial response to questions – Mr Corbyn said he was offering ‘real change’ and would deliver ‘for the many’.
He said he would negotiate another deal, a referendum would happen within six months, and he would ‘implement the choice’.
He said: ‘We will negotiate an agreement and we will put that alongside Remain in a referendum and our government will abide by that result. There will be a genuine choice put before the people of Britain and we will carry that out.’
Mr Corbyn, who appeared to be struggling with a cold, also prompted laughter when he tried to defend what Mr Johnson described as Labour’s ‘crackpot plan’ for a four-day working week.
Mr Corbyn said: ‘It is about reducing the working week all across the economy, paid for by productivity increases all across Britain.’
At one stage Mr Johnson quipped that the Labour leader had ‘found a magic money forest’ as they were both accused of splurging money.
However, Mr Johnson was also heckled as he insisted on turning the discussion back to Brexit at all opportunities. And the PM – who is in the process of divorcing his second wife – dodged directly answering a query about the importance of personal integrity.
The pair clashed bitterly over the NHS, with Mr Corbyn accusing the government of wanting to ‘sell out’ the health service in a trade deal with the US. He waved around a sheaf of FOI requests he said demonstrated there had been ‘secret meetings’.
Mr Johnson insisted the idea was ‘total invention’.
‘It is completely untrue. There are no circumstances whatever in which this Government or any Conservative government will put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiation,’ he said.
He said the NHS was ‘one of the single most brilliant and beautiful things about this country’.
Both men were subject to anger in the studio, with one member of the audience called Fahad raging that they had ‘degraded’ the debate and adding: ‘How can this nation trust you?’
Despite their increasingly bitter rowing, at one point Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn paused to shake hands after being entreated to raise the tone of politics.
Handshake from hell! Body language expert JUDI JAMES watches awkward debate moment
By Judi James, body language expert for MailOnline
A body language high point of the hour was when the two men were asked by Julie to ‘look at one another and make a gesture’ , which could have been taken in the wrong way, but Boris immediately leapt across to Corbyn to grab his hand for a shake.
The cameras seemed taken unawares but the microphone picked up the resounding thump as Boris added a power ‘pat’ on Corbyn’s back.
Once their hands parted Corbyn stepped back in alarm, raising both hands in a gesture of shocked rejection.
Judi James writes that there was genuine animosity between Corbyn and Johnson during last night’s debates
Boris stuck to his theme of Brexit like a barnacle to a boat and in terms of selling his core message his determination probably paid off. He even said he’d leave Corbyn a copy of his Brexit plan as an Xmas gift although he also added a jar of damson jam might go down well.
The genuine animosity between these two men was as obvious from their body language as it was when they walked together frostily during entrance to the Queen’s speech. Despite looking slightly more amused by his opponent, Boris continually flung a backward thumb-jerk in Corbyn’s direction in a gesture of dismissive ridicule while Corbyn spent the first half of the debate refusing to look in Boris’s direction lest he be turned into a pillar of stone.
Compared to some of his bumbling, rambling appearances on the election trail, Boris was a man on fire . His eye-gaze was focused and moved seamlessly between the audience and the cameras. His biggest weakness in terms of technique was his trait of reading his opening and ending remarks from notes rather than memorizing his key points or reading them from auto-cue like Corbyn.
During a quickfire round of questions, the leaders were asked whether they thought the monarchy was ‘fit for purpose’.
‘It needs a bit of improvement,’ Mr Corbyn said.
The PM responded: ‘The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.’
But asked by Etchingham whether they thought Prince Andrew, who has been embroiled in scandal over his BBC interview about his links to Jeffrey Epstein, Mr Corbyn said there were ‘very serious questions that need to be answered’.
And Mr Johnson said; ‘The law must certainly take its course.’
Mr Corbyn, asked to rule out a second Scottish independence referendum before the end of the first year of a Labour government, said: ‘I’ve said there would be no deal with the SNP, there would be no support for a Scottish referendum in the early years of the next Labour government because I want to invest in Scotland and give Scotland the £70billion it needs in capital investment.’
He said it was ‘their choice’ if the SNP leadership ‘chooses to put the Conservative government back in office’.
Mr Johnson retorted: ‘I listened very carefully as I always do to Mr Corbyn – I didn’t hear him say he was going to rule out a referendum on Scotland. Did you?’
The Prime Minister claimed his Brexit deal allows the whole of the UK to come out of the EU, adding: ‘Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the UK. It’s there in black and white.’
The snap poll by YouGov – who interviewed 1,646 people – estimated that 51 per cent of the public believed Mr Johnson won the debate compared to 49 per cent for Mr Corbyn.
Those who answered ‘don’t know’ were removed from the result, with the result well within the margin of error.
Mr Johnson was seen as more likeable by 54 per cent to 37 per cent. The PM was viewed as having performed best on Brexit by a big margin of 63 per cent to 27 per cent, and on government spending by 50 per cent to 35 per cent.
Chris Curtis, YouGov’s political research manager, said: ‘Our snap poll shows that the public is divided on who won the debate, with most Labour voters thinking Jeremy Corbyn won, most Conservative voters thinking Boris Johnson won, and very few people changing their minds.
‘But given the Conservatives went into this debate in the lead, they will hope the lack of a knockout blow means they can maintain this until voting day.’
The two leaders exchanged vicious barbs in the ITV special – but a poll suggested they fought each other effectively to a standstill
The hour-long election debate took place in a glitzy studio set up by ITV at studios in Salford this evening and was a high-tempered affair
Speaking after the debate, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘Well, there is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is a better debater than Boris Johnson.
‘But on the key issue of the day, Brexit, nine times Jeremy Corbyn would not say as Prime Minister that a second referendum that he’d call, whether he’d vote Leave or Remain. ‘That is a failure of leadership.’
The PM was handed a major boost earlier with a poll showing the Tories surging into an 18-point lead over Labour, helped by crumbling Brexit Party support – enough to give him the outright majority he craves.
But Mr Corbyn’s team were aware that his underdog status meant that even just holding his own in the exchanges this evening could help turn the tables.
It is the first time in UK political history that the two prospective candidates for PM have gone head-to-head on television during a campaign. In 2010, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg were involved in the equivalent battle.
A dramatic Kantar poll published earlier found the Tories were up eight points on 45 per cent, with Labour trailing far behind and stalled on 27 per cent.
Most of the Conservative advance over the past week was down to plummeting ratings for the Brexit Party.
It was down seven points to just 2 per cent after Nigel Farage withdrew more than half his candidates to avoid splitting the Eurosceptic vote on December 12.
The lead would be enough to deliver a big majority for Mr Johnson if it was replicated evenly across the country.
However, a separate survey for YouGov was slightly less rosy for the Tories – showing their advantage coming down from 17 points at the end of last week to a still healthy 12 points.
Mr Johnson travelled with his partner Carrie Symonds to the event – their first joint appearance of the election campaign.
This morning the premier posed in Jimmy Egan’s Boxing Academy in Manchester – with ‘Get Brexit Done’ across his boxing gloves.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn opted for a more leisurely pre-debate routine, posting pictures of himself visiting a barber for a beard trim.
As he arrived at the venue this evening he said he had braced himself for the face-off by ‘eating a Caesar salad’ and ‘drinking cups of tea’.
Mr Johnson has promised to launch a full-frontal political attack on Mr Corbyn with an ultimatum to stop ‘dithering’ on his Brexit plans.
But Mr Corbyn is laying out a populist hard-Left platform, after he pledged to spend up to £100billion nationalising chunks of BT to provide free broadband for everyone.
In fresh evidence that Labour is abandoning the traditional centre ground, shadow chancellor John McDonnell today vowed to target ‘obscene’ billionaires, force private firms to slash pay for top executives, and oust companies from the London Stock Exchange if they do not meet climate change targets.
The Prime Minister issued a challenge to his Labour counterpart warning that failure to answer on key points would leave the public with ‘no choice but to conclude that Corbyn’s Labour, propped up by the SNP, will mean dither, delay and uncertainty’.
In a letter published by the Tories last night he set Mr Corbyn four questions to answer: how he would vote in a second Brexit referendum, what Labour’s position on freedom of movement is, how much he would pay the EU for ‘market access’, and whether all of his MPs would back his Brexit policy.
The Kantar poll this evening found the Tories were up eight points on 45 per cent, with Labour trailing far behind and stalled on 27 per cent
Tory sources said the Prime Minister would use the debate to hammer home his central message that only the Conservatives can be relied upon to deliver Brexit – while also raising concerns about Labour’s opposition to immigration controls.
But Mr McDonnell made clear that Labour is also spoiling for a fight, declaring war on the wealthy and business in a speech in London earlier.
He vowed to target ‘obscene’ billionaires, force private firms to slash pay for top executives, and oust companies from the London Stock Exchange if they do not meet climate change targets.
In a fresh lurch to the Left, the shadow chancellor said it was ‘obscene’ that people could become billionaires, saying ‘no-one deserves to have that kind of money’.
The veteran socialist said bosses at firms with public sector contracts should not be paid more than around £350,000.
He hailed Labour’s proposals to force medium-sized firms to give 10 per cent of their shares to workers, and bolster union power by having a third of their board made up of staff. Companies who fail to meet objectives to tackle climate change also faced being ‘delisted’ from the stock exchange.
And Mr McDonnell vowed to neuter the ‘Big Four’ accountancy companies, saying he would create a new state-backed auditor to stop them behaving like a ‘cartel’.
The assault on corporate governance provoked alarm among business groups, who warned that Labour risks ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ and trying to manage the economy ‘by diktat’.
The extraordinary platform is more evidence that Labour is gearing up to unveil a much more dramatic manifesto on Thursday than their offering two years ago.
Last week Mr Corbyn pledged to nationalise huge chunks of BT and offer free broadband to every household – despite warnings it would cost £100billion and require the state to take control of huge swathes of other businesses such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Sky.
The ITV debate from Salford was the first time the two largest party leaders have squared off on live television in an election debate.
Previous debates have featured a wider array of leaders, but Theresa May refused to take part ahead of the 2017 election where she lost the Tory majority.
One ally of the PM acknowledged that it was a ‘risk’ to take on an opponent who is lagging far behind in the polls.
‘Corbyn has nothing to lose,’ the source said.
‘I’ll be sleeping a lot easier once it’s over.’
The Liberal Democrats and SNP on Monday lost a High Court challenge to have Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon included in the debate. The two parties claimed ITV’s decision was unlawful because it breached impartiality rules. Lawyers for the Lib Dems claimed that with Labour sitting on the fence on Brexit, ‘the voice of Remain has been excluded’ from the debate.
But two judges ruled that the decision was not open to challenge in the courts and that the parties’ only recourse was to complain to Ofcom.
The hour-long debate – with Julie Etchingham as the moderator – was split into two halves, with the first devoted to Brexit.
Both sides expected the debate to be the first time that many voters engage with the election arguments.
The first televised election debates in 2010 attracted audiences of close to ten million.
Tory strategists told Mr Johnson to go after Mr Corbyn over his attempt to sit on the fence during the Brexit debate.