Labour NEC panel readmits Jeremy Corbyn to party after suspension

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Jeremy Corbyn has been readmitted to the Labour Party after being suspended last month over his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Labour antisemitism.

A panel of five Labour national executive committee (NEC) members convened for several hours this afternoon to consider his case – and ultimately decided to reinstate the former leader of the party.

Update, 7.50pm: Commenting on his readmission, Corbyn said: “I am pleased to have been reinstated in the Labour Party and would like to thank party members, trade unionists and all who have offered solidarity. Our movement must now come together to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.”

LabourList understands that the ex-leader of the opposition is set to receive a ‘reminder of conduct’, which is more severe than the ‘reminder of values’ consequence that was expected by some party sources.

Update, 8.15pm: Reacting to the decision, Keir Starmer said: “I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community and those Labour members who have fought so hard to tackle antisemitism. I know the hurt that has been caused and the trauma people have felt.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement in response to the EHRC report was wrong and completely distracted from a report that identified unlawful conduct in our tackling of racism within the Labour Party. This should shame us all.

“I will not allow a focus on one individual to prevent us from doing the vital work of tackling antisemitism. When I stood as leader of the Labour Party, I was clear that my first priority would be to root out antisemitism. It still is.

“I know we have a long way to go, but I am absolutely resolute in my determination to make the Labour Party a safe place for Jewish people. I stand by the commitments I made last month to accept the findings and the recommendations of the EHRC’s report in full.

“That must mean establishing an independent complaints process as soon as possible in the New Year. This is my commitment and my promise to our party, the Jewish community and the British people.”

LabourList understands that no decision has yet been taken on whether to restore the Labour whip to Corbyn. Allies of Corbyn say the party rulebook indicates that he is now automatically a Labour MP once again, but those close to the leadership disagree.

The NEC panel members were Labour to Win-backed local party rep Gurinder Singh Josan, Momentum-backed Yasmine Dar, UNISON’s Wendy Nichols, the FBU’s Ian Murray and ‘soft left’ councillor Alice Perry.

The former Labour leader released a statement on Tuesday morning on the subject of his suspension in which he tried to clarify previous comments and expressed hope that “this matter is resolved as quickly as possible”.

Corbyn did not directly apologise for his original response, as some had urged him to do, but said: “I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.

“To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither “exaggerated” nor “overstated”. The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism.”

The Jewish Labour Movement has described the decision to lift the suspension as “extraordinary” and said the move would “embolden those who agreed with him” when he “downplayed the reality of antisemitism in the Labour Party”.

The organisation has criticised the decision for being “expedited” and taken by a “factionally-aligned political committee”. Many critics have focused on the make-up of the NEC panel, which had two Labour left-wingers, two Corbynsceptics and one soft left member.

Margaret Hodge tweeted: “This is a broken outcome from a broken system. A factional, opaque and dysfunctional complaints process could never reach a fair conclusion. This is exactly why the EHRC instructed Labour to setup an independent process!

“I simply cannot comprehend why it is acceptable for Corbyn to be a Labour MP if he thinks antisemitism is exaggerated and a political attack, refuses to apologise, never takes responsibility for his actions & rejects the findings of the EHRC report. Ridiculous.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which referred Labour to the EHRC and complained to the party about Corbyn, accused the party of conducting “nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow of the EHRC’s report last month”.

Unite’s Len McCluskey said the readmission is “the correct, fair and unifying decision”, adding: “As a party we now move forward to implement the EHRC’s recommendations and redouble our efforts to inspire voters about Keir’s ten pledges.”

Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood said: “This is the right outcome and testament to the efforts of thousands of Labour members across the country who have stood up to defend Corbyn and the rights of socialists within the party.”

The group has also branded recent disciplinary action against ordinary members “unwarranted” and urged the party to reinstate those who have been suspended after considering motions on Corbyn’s suspension at a local level.

A number of Labour MPs on the party’s left such as Kate Osborne tweeted their approval of the decision, with Lloyd Russell-Moyle saying: “We must go forward united and expose the failures of this government.”

Corbyn was suspended nearly three weeks ago after controversially claiming that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents” in his response to the EHRC report.

The report on Labour antisemitism had found that the party was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” and “serious failings in leadership” during the time that Corbyn was in charge.

A Labour spokesperson announced on October 29th that Corbyn was being suspended by the party due to “his comments” and “his failure to retract them subsequently”, and the Islington MP had the whip removed.


More from LabourList


We provide our content free, but providing daily Labour news, comment and analysis costs money. Small monthly donations from readers like you keep us going. To those already donating: thank you.

If you can afford it, can you join our supporters giving £10 a month?

And if you’re not already reading the best daily round-up of Labour news, analysis and comment…