McGovern, 36, was interviewing former Labour MP for Birkenhead Frank Field, 76, over his exit from the Labour Party on BBC Breakfast.
A Labour spokesperson had told the BBC show Jeremy Corbyn “thanked Mr Field for his service to the party”, which led Steph to ask: “You’ve been a Labour MP for over 40 years, why have you decided to leave?”
Field explained there were two reasons: “Intolerance and bullying.” He added: “I thought that as politicians we ought to start listening rather than telling people they keep getting their perceptions wrong.”
The pair then discussed Lord Sacks – Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013 – and his remark that Corbyn’s comments about British Zionists were “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician” since Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech 50 years ago.
Frank said Sacks had been “over the top”, adding: “But it was, for me, a wake up call in the sense that, we keep saying to the Jewish community in Britain, ‘Look you’ve got it wrong we’re not antisemites’.
“And the group that feels like it’s being targeted keeps saying ‘but we think you are! We feel like we’re under attack from you.’”
BBC Breakfast host McGovern said: “On that, the Labour Party have said this is a historical complaint which has been resolved after being fully investigated in line with party rules and procedures.”
Frank jumped in and spoke over McGovern, demanding to comment on the statement.
He said: “Can I just answer that? If they have investigated it and concluded it’s all fictitious, they have never told me. And I’ve been writing, and copying our Chief Whip in the commons, saying ‘this is still going on, this is new material for you’.
“They’re just untrue, for the Labour Party’s unknown spokesman to say that.”
McGovern tried to move the interview on, saying: “I know you’re meeting the Chief Whip later…” When Frank interrupted again adding: “I spoke to him yesterday.”
BBC Breakfast’s McGovern steered the interview back to her question, saying: “Are you jumping before being made to resign?”
Frank said: “No, I’ve been through all this before when I’ve been deselected and I’m still the Labour Party candidate. I wish to be the Labour Party candidate next time at the next election, if I’m not I shall stand as the Independent candidate.”
He added: “I hope, I believe Jeremy will lead us into the next election. It’s not true what you say that I’m a constant critic of Jeremy, that isn’t true.
“I believe he has a right to take us into the next election. It’s because of that fact, I think it’s more urgent that we appear as a party that is the great champion again against racism. And that we show that we in the Labour party do not tolerate bullying and thuggery.
“If we can’t put our own house in order, that will show we can run the country. They are crucial issues, the party has to decide.
“The idea this is part of a plot is simply crazy. I think he will lead us into the next election and I think these issues are urgent.”
McGovern quizzed the former Whip, asking: “It’s not possible to resign from the Whip and remain a party member?”
To which Frank replied: “I spoke to [the Chief Whip] yesterday and said I’ve been in the party 60 years and hope to continue as a party member, and I will sit as an independent Labour MP.
“I would obviously when these issues are dealt with I would be able to seek the whip again. But his interpretation is different from others – we will see as time goes on who is correct.”
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays from 6am on BBC.