Keir Starmer has rejected the request made by Labour MPs on the party’s left to reinstate sacked shadow cabinet member Rebecca Long-Bailey after a meeting this morning.
In a video conference call with members of the Socialist Campaign Group, including Jeremy Corbyn, Labour left MPs asked the new party leader to reconsider his decision.
Starmer stood down Long-Bailey from the frontbench after she shared an interview containing the claim that US police learnt kneeling on people’s necks “from seminars with Israeli secret services”.
His spokesperson described it as “an antisemitic conspiracy theory” and said “Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority”.
The Socialist Campaign Group issued a statement after the meeting today, which was held to express concerns over the sacking. The group confirmed that there was still “significant disagreement” on the decision.
According to the statement, MPs on the call also stressed the need for Labour to clearly oppose Israel’s annexation plans, and raised concerns about the response to the leaked report including the treatment of Black MPs.
The Zoom meeting held from 9am was described as a “business-like exchange of views which took place in a mutually respectful manner”. A new Shadow Education Secretary is expected to be appointed in the coming days.
There had been talk of left MPs resigning from the Labour frontbench in protest, but that has not taken place as they have decided to retain influence where possible.
Long-Bailey herself has told The Mirror: “The only way that we’ll win a general election is by being unified as a party that’s why it’s so important for me to make the choice not to be critical about the way I might have been treated.”
Below is the full text of the Socialist Campaign Group statement.
“The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs met this morning with Labour leader Keir Starmer.
“On the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet, it was clear that significant disagreement remains on this point. The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs made it clear that Rebecca Long-Bailey should not have been sacked and should be reinstated.
“The imminent annexation of the West Bank by Israel’s government was discussed and the need for the Labour Party, MPs, party members and supporters to speak out against Israel’s illegal annexation and ongoing human right abuses by the government of Israel was raised.
“Concerns were also raised about the party response to the review into leaks and the 2017 electoral sabotage and especially the treatment of black MPs.
“This was a business-like exchange of views which took place in a mutually respectful manner.”