Miriam Margolyes has said Labour is no more anti-Semitic than any other party in the UK.
The Bafta-winning actress and activist has spoken about accusations of anti-Jewish sentiment within Labour, which she accepts is a real problem.
She has claimed that the difficulty of anti-Semitism is not reserved to Labour alone and that other political groups, including the Conservative Party, suffer from the same issue.
The stage and screen star, who is from a Jewish background, has said that while the problem of anti-Semitism is a real one, it is not as widespread as has been reported.
Margolyes also criticised Prime Minister Theresa May when she spoke at the venue of her latest project, the puppet show Where Is Peter Rabbit?, a family story which she hopes will relieve “Brexit stress”.
She told the Press Association: “I don’t think there is any more anti-Semitism in the Labour Party than there is in the Tory party, or any of the other parties.
“Does it exist? Yes it does. Is it as widespread as people say? No it isn’t.”
The actress said that society needs “more love and kindness” and that “everyone wants to be happier”. She hopes her family-friendly project will offer light relief from politics.
She said of the puppet show based on the work of Beatrix Potter: “It’s true and it’s joyous and it’s beautiful to look at – none of which can be said of Theresa May.”
Margolyes added: “Believe me, we need this. We need a show like this.
“It relieves Bress. Do you know what Bress is? Brexit stress. I’m trying to make up a word.”
Margolyes has loaned her voice to the show, which plays at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Comedian and TV presenter Griff Rhys Jones also features among the voice cast.
The Labour and Conservative parties have been contacted for comment.