Furious Corbynistas have accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of reneging on a deal to allow Jeremy Corbyn to return as a party MP – as a hardcore of his supporters threatened a new rebellion.
Allies of the former Opposition Leader claimed they had an agreement with his successor to return the party whip after he published a ‘clarification’ regarding anti-Semitism comments earlier this week.
Mr Corbyn has his party suspension quashed on Tuesday, less than three weeks after it was imposed following remarks that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’ by opponents and ‘much of the media’.
But yesterday morning Sir Keir refused to automatically restore Mr Corbyn to the Labour benches as well, sparking fury among his supports.
Last night 32 members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, a hardcore of Corbynistas on the backbenches, signed an open letter demanding his reinstatement.
But former prime minister Gordon Brown weighed in to the fight on behalf of Sir Keir, saying Mr Corbyn should only have the whip restored if he made ‘a full apology’ with no ‘qualifications’.
Sources close to the current Labour leader rejected suggestions, made to the Guardian, that they had done a deal with Mr Corbyn’s allies, saying that while there had been a lot of lobbying on his behalf it went no further than that.
Mr Corbyn has his party suspension quashed on Tuesday, less than three weeks after it was imposed following remarks that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’ by opponents and ‘much of the media’
Allies of the former Opposition Leader claimed they had an agreement with his successor to return the party whip after he published a ‘clarification’ regarding anti-Semitism comments earlier this week
Earlier on Wednesday Mr Starmer had made his shock announcement. In a statement he said: ‘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 anti-Semitism.
‘In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.’
Mr Corbyn’s allies continue to vent their fury at the situation, with former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott today questioning whether Sir Keir Starmer could have won the leadership election if members ‘knew that within months he would do this’ to Mr Corbyn.
She said it was ‘no way to unite the party’ and excluding Mr Corbyn from being a Labour MP was ‘wrong’.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey last night said he was ‘astonished’ by what he called the ‘vindictive and vengeful action which despoils party democracy and due process alike’.
But Mr Brown used a Sky interview today to insist that Corbyn must show greater contrition before he is allowed to represent Labour in Parliament.
‘He has got to make a full apology and it has got to be clear that there are no ifs, no buts, there is no qualification about his opposition to anti-Semitism,’ the former prime minister said.
‘And Keir Starmer will, I think, insist on that and that is the right thing to do. I’m sure mistakes have been made along the way, I’m sure he hasn’t intended these consequences, Jeremy Corbyn himself, but you can’t allow any impression that even one case of anti-Semitism in the Labour party is acceptable.
‘None are acceptable, no forms of racism, no forms of discrimination, we have got to root it out once and for all.’
Former prime minister Gordon Brown weighed in to the fight on behalf of Sir Keir, saying Mr Corbyn should only have the whip restored if he made ‘a full apology’ with no ‘qualifications’
Veteran Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge today suggested she would have left the party if Mr Corbyn had been reinstated, saying Sir Keir’s choice to deny his predecessor the whip ‘did a lot to restore his credibility’.
Dame Margaret told the BBC Today programme: ‘It was completely wrong for the party to let Corbyn back in under a process that was shown, again, to be broken and politically corrupted, and I think it was completely right of Keir Starmer to deny Jeremy Corbyn the whip.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is not a Labour member of Parliament, and that was what made it possible for me to take the decision really that I wouldn’t have to leave the party.
She added: ‘To be honest, on Monday night I just can’t describe the feeling of rejection that I experienced and I know that other Jewish members have experienced.
‘I’m sick and tired of talking about Jeremy Corbyn, this isn’t really about him.
‘It’s about Jews, it’s what happening to Jews within the Labour Party – he’s not the victim, we have been the victim of the anti-Semitism.
‘And this feeling on Monday night that I had of complete rejection is what I’ve been experiencing for a long, long time.’