Keir Starmer has told Nick Robinson on his ‘Political Thinking’ podcast that he has not spoken to Jeremy Corbyn in over a year and the ex-leader may not be able to stand as a Labour candidate at the next election.
“I haven’t spoken to Jeremy since before the night before the Equality and Human Rights report was published,” Starmer said when asked about Corbyn, who was suspended from Labour before being readmitted and then having the whip suspended.
Asked whether Corbyn would be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate at the next election, Starmer replied: “He’s not got the whip at the moment. So he’ll be able to run but he won’t be able to run as a Labour MP.”
Pressed on the issue again, the Labour leader added: “I don’t know but at the moment that may be the case… It’s up to him, he knows what he needs to do to move this forward. He’s not chosen to do so, that’s his choice.”
It has been reported that allies expect Corbyn to stand as an independent in Islington North if he is not allowed to be a Labour candidate at the next election. He has represented the constituency since 1983.
Corbyn is a Labour member but not currently a member of the parliamentary party. It is understood that, if this situation continues, the matter of his candidacy would go to Labour’s national executive committee.
Discussing whether former Labour MP and 2019 Liberal Democrat candidate Luciana Berger rejoining the party would be a sign of progress, Starmer said: “I would like to see Luciana feel that she can make that move.”
On Boris Johnson, Starmer told Robinson: “I asked my wife whether I should say this on media and she said no, but I think I can say it here. Look, I feel very strongly, if you’re not going to deliver, if you’re not going to deliver your promises: don’t bullshit.”
Asked about entering politics later in life after a career in law, he said: “I do think I have adapted. Quite often people say to me, ‘where’s the passion?’. The passion for me is in, actually, answering the question ‘what are you going to do about it?’.
“Politics is littered with people who shout very loudly about a problem and walk around it time and time again, shouting passionately… and people say ‘wow, they’re really passionate’.
“I think there’s a different kind of passion, which is the sort of gritty determination to say, ‘well, that’s the problem, I understand that, what’s the answer to it?’. My passion is that sort of determination to do something about it.”
He discussed how he had mentioned his sister being a care worker at Prime Minister’s Questions, which led reporters to turn up at her doorstep. “That really freaked her out,” he said, adding that she has asked him not to say her name, where she lives or works as a result.
Starmer also talked about his mother being a “passionate defender of the NHS”, saying: “You couldn’t say a word against the NHS to my mum in any shape or form. It absolutely ran through her.
“An abiding memory I have is of being in an intensive care unit, and it was very touch and go, she held my hand and said, ‘You won’t let your dad go private, will you?’. She feared that if things got really, really bad, there might be a temptation to try something else and she wasn’t going to have it.”
Asked whether he would follow his mother’s advice and be against NHS privatisation as Prime Minister, he replied: “I would listen to my mum in this, and that’s why we need a better plan for the NHS”.
Pressed on whether, faced with long NHS waiting lists, he would end all private sector involvement in the NHS, he said: “You’ve got to have a practical answer to this… I don’t think you could just stop it in one go like that.”
He told Robinson about the time a voter showed him photos of herself with Asian neighbours, saying: “What she wanted to do was tell me that the Eastern Europeans who had now moved into her street, and who she thought were behaving badly, were behaving badly.
“But she obviously felt that in order to have permission to say that, if you like, she had to show me pictures of her with the Asian neighbours to try to prove to me that what she was later going to say was somehow legitimate.
“I could just see what was going on. That’s a lesson not for her but for me. That we, the Labour Party, need to break that down, re-engage and reconnect.”
Asked about the Channel crossings, after 27 people died trying to reach the UK this week, Starmer said: “You can and you should have tough borders. But you also should honour your obligations under the Refugee Conventions. The two have to go together.”
He added that there should be “safe and legal routes for people at distance to come safely across to different countries including our own”.
The Labour leader ended the interview saying: “I can’t stand losing. On the football pitch, everything is about the result… I’m afraid I’m not into ‘it was a great game’. Everybody was on the pitch. If you’re on the pitch, you’re on the pitch to win.”