Starmer announces decision not to restore whip to Corbyn

Sienna Rodgers
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Keir Starmer has announced a fresh decision not to restore the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn – despite the former leader being readmitted to the party via its current complaints process on Tuesday.

Corbyn was reinstated by a panel of five Labour national executive committee (NEC) members after last month being suspended from the party by general secretary David Evans, an ally of Starmer.

But no decision was taken immediately on whether to restore the whip. While allies of Corbyn said party rules meant he was automatically a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party again, the leadership disagreed.

Announcing his decision today, Starmer said: “Since I was elected Labour leader, I have made it my mission to root out antisemitism from the Labour Party. I know that I will judged on my actions, not my words.

“The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.

“It is the task of my leadership to fix what I have inherited. That is what I am resolute in doing and I have asked for an independent process to be established as soon as possible.

“I’m the leader of the Labour Party, but I’m also the leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle antisemitism.

“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl has welcomed Starmer’s withholding of the Labour whip from Corbyn and described the move as an “appropriate leadership decision”.

Jon Lansman, the former Momentum chair who left Labour’s NEC last week, believes that the whip decision has “driven a coach and horses through the party’s disciplinary process” and made it “subservient” to the PLP.

Labour left MPs including Richard Burgon have called for the whip to be restored to Corbyn, while John McDonnell has tweeted that Starmer’s decision not to take this course is “plain wrong” and will “cause more division”.

Diane Abbott, a longtime ally of the former leader, has commented that the removal of the whip from Corbyn separately to Labour’s disciplinary system “now raises serious questions of due process”.

Momentum’s Andrew Scattergood has accused Starmer of “making it up as he goes along” while being “farcical and incompetent”. The co-chair added: “They can’t remove the whip from our movement.”

Corbyn’s suspension took place after he reacted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report by claiming that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.

The Jewish Labour Movement has criticised the decision to lift Corbyn’s suspension as “extraordinary” and predicted that the move by Labour’s NEC would “embolden those who agreed with him”.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism announced today that it has filed a fresh complaint against Corbyn to the party “over his personal responsibility for the party being found guilty of unlawful acts of antisemitism”.

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