Corbyn and Webbe run as independents as Starmer grilled on Abbott suspension

Tom Belger
© Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com

Jeremy Corbyn will run as an independent candidate at the general election, the former party leader has confirmed, with Labour moving quickly to expel him.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Corbyn’s announcement was a “decision for him”, but told the BBC the party would have an “excellent candidate” and the choice in Islington North and elsewhere was Tory chaos and division or “turning the page” with Labour.

Meanwhile another once-Labour, now-independent MP Claudia Webbe also confirmed on Friday she would stand as an independent in Leicester East.

A Labour source told LabourList “we’re focused on returning as many Labour MPs as possible” after Corbyn’s announcement.

LabourList understands Corbyn is no longer a member of the party, with Labour rules stating members can’t run for rival parties. Corbyn was blocked from standing for Labour last year.

READ MORE: Labour picks two councillors for Islington North shortlist

It comes just after the Labour party shortlisted two candidates to run for the party in the north London seat, north London councillors Praful Nagrund and Sem Moema.

Journalist and activist Paul Mason also stood, but did not make the shortlist. The selection will be wrapped up within the next few days.

 

It comes as pressure grows on Starmer to restore the whip to Diane Abbott, suspended last year for suggesting Irish people, Jews and Travellers do not experience racism all their lives.

Her long suspension has faced criticism even from some of her critics who do not share the veteran left-winger’s politics, and Starmer faced questions in broadcast interviews on Friday about whether she would stand as a Labour candidate – and why she was excluded while Natalie Elphicke was in the party.

Starmer said the disciplinary process was independent, but that it should be wrapped up very soon given deadlines for confirming electoral candidates.

Kate Dove, co-chair of Momentum, the Labour left campaign group launched to support Corbyn before and when he led the party, said: “Starmer and his Westminster clique again denied local people the chance to choose their own candidate and blocked Jeremy. Starmer has treated the people of Islington with contempt, setting the stage for a divisive and distracting election campaign.

“We urge the Labour Leadership not to repeat this damaging debacle in Hackney with Diane Abbott. Britain’s first black woman MP, who Keir Starmer rightly called a ‘trailblazer’, deserves to run as the Labour candidate, as local members voted.”

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