Jeremy Corbyn brands Starmer ban on him standing for Labour a 'flagrant attack' on democracy

15 February 2023, 09:27 | Updated: 16 February 2023, 01:00

Sir Keir Starmer has stopped Mr Corbyn from standing for Labour
Sir Keir Starmer has stopped Mr Corbyn from standing for Labour. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Jeremy Corbyn has branded Keir Starmer's decision to bar him from standing as a Labour candidate at the next election a "flagrant attack" on democracy.

Mr Corbyn, who led the party from 2015 to 2020 and currently sits as an independent MP, called the move a “divisive distraction from our overriding goal: to defeat the Conservative Party”.

It comes after Sir Keir unequivocally banned Mr Corbyn, who has already been kicked out of the party, from standing as a candidate for the party at the next general election.

"Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the next general election," Sir Keir said.

"What I said about the party changing, I meant, and we are not going back."

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It comes after the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was no longer monitoring the party over its handling of anti-semitism. Previously, the watchdog accused the party of "serious failings" under Mr Corbyn's leadership.

But while he said anti-semitism was "absolutely abhorrent" in 2020, Mr Corbyn went on to say: "The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."

That led to his suspension, with Sir Keir saying those who claimed the anti-semitism problem in Labour were "part of the problem" and should not be in the party.

Reacting to the EHRC announcement, Sir Keir said: "Today is an important moment in the history of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn MP addresses the closing rally at the Emmanuel Centre on February 11, 2023 in London, England.
Jeremy Corbyn MP addresses the closing rally at the Emmanuel Centre on February 11, 2023 in London, England. Picture: Getty

"It's taken many, many months of hard work and humility to get here.

"It's meant rebuilding trust, not just with the Jewish community but with all those who were rightly appalled by the culture of the party and the previous leadership.

"When I became leader, I said I would turn Labour around and give it back to the British people and the most important and urgent part of that was tearing out antisemitism by its roots.

Keir Starmer succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader in 2020.
Keir Starmer succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader in 2020. Picture: Getty

"Antisemitism is an evil and no political party that cultivates it deserves to hold power."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission had scrutinised Labour since ruling it was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination more than two years ago.

But the watchdog said it has improved its complaints and training procedures to protect current and future party members under Sir Keir's leadership.

Discussing the relationship between Sir Keir and the former leader, Labour MP Diane Abbott said they were always "friendly" and got along in the past aside from the topic of Brexit.

"Jeremy, in his heart of hearts, is a Brexiteer and Keir Starmer at that point was passionately pro-European," she told Global's The News Agents podcast.

She added: "Jeremy’s always been about uniting the party and he knew most party members were pro-European but himself, I would say, deep down, he was a Brexiteer."

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