Keir Starmer will use Tuesday’s meeting of Labour’s ruling national executive committee to confirm that Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next election.
The Labour leader will propose a motion at the meeting confirming that the NEC will not endorse his predecessor as a Labour candidate at the next general election.
The motion – which has been seen by LabourList – states that the party’s “standing with the electorate in the country, and its electoral prospects in seats it is required to win in order to secure a parliamentary majority and/or win the next general election, are both significantly diminished should Mr Corbyn be endorsed”.
The motion would see the NEC agree that the “Labour Party’s interests, and its political interests at the next general election, are not well served by Mr Corbyn running as a Labour Party candidate”.
A senior Labour source said: “Keir Starmer has made clear that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be a Labour candidate at the next general election. The Labour Party now is unrecognisable from the one that lost in 2019. Tuesday’s vote will confirm this and ensure we can focus on our five missions to build a better Britain.”
Update, Monday 1:45pm: Corbyn has said in a statement: “Today, Keir Starmer has broken his commitment to respect the rights of Labour members and denigrated the democratic foundations of our party.
“I have been elected as the Labour MP for Islington North on ten consecutive occasions since 1983. I am proud to represent a community that supports vulnerable people, joins workers on the picket line and fights for transformative change.
“This latest move represents a leadership increasingly unwilling to offer solutions that meet the scale of the crises facing us all. As the government plunges millions into poverty and demonises refugees, Keir Starmer has focused his opposition on those demanding a more progressive and humane alternative.
“I joined the Labour Party when I was 16 years old because, like millions of others, I believed in a redistribution of wealth and power. Our message is clear: we are not going anywhere. Neither is our determination to stand up for a better world.”
A Momentum spokesperson said: “We utterly condemn this venal and duplicitous act from Keir Starmer, which further divides the Labour Party and insults the millions of people inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
“We urge all NEC representatives to reject this anti-democratic manoeuvre tomorrow – it should be for Islington North Labour members to decide their candidate, not a neighbouring MP drunk on his own power.”
They added: “The rationale given is pathetic and fails to cover up the patently factional motivation. Keir’s paper suggests this blocking is necessary for Labour’s electoral prospects – that will come as a surprise to Jeremy’s constituents, who have elected him ten times with massive majorities.
“And it will come as a surprise to party members in Islington North, who overwhelmingly want Jeremy to be the Labour candidate. Keir is doing this because he knows Jeremy would wipe the floor in any selection contest.”
NEC member Mish Rahman – who stood for re-election to the party’s ruling body last year on the Momentum-backed Grassroots Voice slate – said in a tweet he “cannot support this motion”.
Rahman said: “I believe in a broad church Labour Party where members should choose their candidates. Now is not the time for the party to turn inwards, this [government] is on the ropes. We need to address the real world concerns of voters.”
The Jewish Labour Movement expressed hope that the motion would pass, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn has shown no contrition or responsibility for the antisemitism which was rampant on his watch, which led to [EHRC] finding Labour broke equalities law. Keir Starmer’s firm leadership on this will only win votes for Labour.”
Starmer said in February Corbyn would not stand for Labour, following the Labour leader’s speech on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s announcement that it had concluded its monitoring of the party, which began after the equality regulator’s investigation into allegations of antisemitism within the party.
In the speech, Starmer declared that Labour has changed “permanently, fundamentally [and] irrevocably” since 2019 and “will never go back”.
Asked following the speech whether Corbyn would stand for Labour at the next election, Starmer said: “Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the next general election as a Labour Party candidate.
“What I said about the party changing I meant, and we are not going back, and that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate.”
In a statement following Starmer’s speech, Corbyn – the MP for Islington North – described the announcement as a “flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members”.
The former Labour leader said: “Any attempt to block my candidacy is a denial of due process and should be opposed by anybody who believes in the value of democracy.
“At a time when the government is overseeing the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, this is a divisive distraction from our overriding goal: to defeat the Conservative Party at the next general election.”
The former party leader had the whip suspended in October 2020 following his response to the publication of the EHRC’s report on allegations of antisemitism within Labour.
Reacting to the report, which found Labour was responsible for “unlawful acts”, Corbyn claimed that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member in November 2020, but Starmer subsequently decided not to restore the Labour whip, meaning the former leader sits as an independent MP.
Below is the full text of Keir Starmer’s motion to the NEC.
This meeting of the NEC notes:
- the Labour Party’s purpose is to organise and maintain in parliament and in the country a political Labour Party;
- the NEC’s primary purpose, pursuant to Chapter 1, Clause VIII.2 of the Labour Party rule book, to provide a strategic direction for the Labour Party as a whole to secure the Labour Party’s objectives, and the NEC’s key function to win elections and maintain the support of voters, pursuant to Chapter 1, Clause VIII.2.B of the Labour Party rule book;
- the NEC’s responsibility to act in the best interests of the Labour Party as a whole to further, as best as it can, the Labour Party’s best political interests and its political position in the country;
- that the Labour Party has not secured a parliamentary majority in the House of Commons since 2005;
- that, in the 2019 general election, led by Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party returned 202 MPs to parliament, being the lowest number of Labour Party MPs returned since the 1935 general election; and
- Mr Corbyn is currently a member of the Labour Party and an Independent MP for Islington North; and
- that the Labour Party’s standing with the electorate in the country, and its electoral prospects in seats it is required to win in order to secure a parliamentary majority and/or win the next general election, are both significantly diminished should Mr Corbyn be endorsed by the Labour Party as one of its candidates for the next general election.
This meeting of the NEC considers and agrees that:
- in order to effect the NEC’s primary purpose to maximise the Labour Party’s prospects of winning the next general election, and to avoid any detrimental impact on the Labour Party’s standing with the electorate in the country as a whole;
- the Labour Party’s interests, and its political interests at the next general election, are not well served by Mr Corbyn running as a Labour Party candidate; and
- it is not in the best interests of the Labour Party for it to endorse Mr Corbyn as a Labour Party candidate at the next general election.
Accordingly, this meeting resolves that:
- Mr Corbyn will not be endorsed by the NEC as a candidate on behalf of the Labour Party at the next general election;
- the general secretary write to Mr Corbyn immediately after this meeting to advise him of the above; and
- Mr Corbyn remains a member of the Labour Party and, save as set out above, his rights to attend Labour Party meetings and voting rights afforded under the Labour Party rule book remain unchanged.
Proposer: Keir Starmer
Seconded: Shabana Mahmood
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