Jeremy Corbyn should call by-election if former leader defects, Labour MP says

Elliot Chappell
© Alexandros Michailidis/

Labour’s Charlotte Nichols has said anyone defecting from the party mid-term should call a by-election, following reports that Jeremy Corbyn could launch his own party after privately accepting that he will not be reinstated as a Labour MP.

Reacting to a report in The Telegraph that the former leader could start a political party under the banner of his organisation the Peace and Justice Project, Nichols tweeted that it is “very unlikely” that there is “any truth behind this”.

But the Labour backbencher, who was first elected in the 2019 general election and served for a period as a shadow minister under Keir Starmer, said: “I don’t believe a single member of the [Parliamentary Labour Party] will leave to join him”.

She added: “I firmly believe anyone defects from their party mid-term (whoever it’s to) should call a by-election accordingly.” Corbyn took the same position when a group of MPs quit Labour to form The Independent Group under his leadership.

The Mail on Sunday has reported that Labour may choose former Labour MP Mary Creagh to stand in Corbyn’s Islington North seat. Corbyn has held the constituency since 1983, and was returned to parliament in 2019 with a majority of 26,188.

Creagh served as a Labour councillor for seven years before being elected to parliament, where she represented Wakefield until she lost her seat in the 2019 general election. She has attributed her defeat to Corbyn.

The Labour MP was narrowly defeated by Imran Ahmad Khan when the Tories won Wakefield for the first time since 1931. Khan is currently suspended by the Conservatives after being charged with sexual assaulting a 15-year-old-boy, which he has appeared in court to deny.

Creagh now lives full-time in north London and reportedly has been volunteering at her local food bank and food hub since the start of Covid. Asked in November whether she would run for election again, she replied: “Never say never.”

While supporters of Corbyn have said he stands a good chance of winning the seat as an Independent candidate, Labour politicians including Islington Council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz have been tipped as potential challengers at the next election.

Sources told The Mail on Sunday that Corbyn critic Ruth Smeeth, who lost her Stoke-on-Trent North seat at the last general election, has also been named as a possible candidate to contest the north London seat.

Corbyn was suspended in October 2020 for his comments in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism within the party, but was reinstated as a member by Labour’s ruling body in November.

However, Corbyn currently sits as an Independent MP because he subsequently had the party whip suspended. It is understood that, if the situation is unchanged by the time of the next election, the matter of his candidacy would go to Labour’s national executive committee.

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