Jeremy Corbyn will not have Labour whip restored, Sir Keir Starmer announces

18 November 2020, 11:07 | Updated: 18 November 2020, 11:33

Jeremy Corbyn will not have the whip restored despite his suspension being lifted
Jeremy Corbyn will not have the whip restored despite his suspension being lifted. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Jeremy Corbyn will not have the Labour whip restored despite him having had his suspension from the party lifted, Sir Keir Starmer has announced.

Mr Corbyn was reinstated as a party member on Tuesday - three weeks after being suspended in the aftermath of the damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into anti-Semitism.

Mr Corbyn claimed that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by opponents and "much of the media" - though he has since sought to clarify his comments.

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But despite the move by the National Executive Committee, Sir Keir has declined to restore the whip to the former opposition leader - meaning he will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Sir Keir said Mr Corbyn "undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party's ability to tackle anti-Semitism".

The Labour leader said in a statement: "Since I was elected Labour leader, I have made it my mission to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party.

"I know that I will judged on my actions, not my words.

"The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.

"It is the task of my leadership to fix what I have inherited. That is what I am resolute in doing and I have asked for an independent process to be established as soon as possible.

"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 antisemitism.

"In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review."

Responding to Sir Keir, Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, whose wife and children are Jewish, tweeted: "Campaign Against @antisemitism has called out 4 of your shadow communities team for antisemitic incidents, including Steve Reed, the shadow secretary of state.

"My family - including my 3 children - have experienced this racism. It should have no place in our society.

"This is not just about Jeremy Corbyn. If you are serious about addressing antisemitism, you should start by confronting your own front bench."

The NEC's move was condemned by Jewish groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which described it as a "retrograde step for the party in its relations with the Jewish community".

Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed Mr Corbyn's suspension was "nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow" of the EHRC report.

The Jewish Labour Movement said it appeared the former party leader's case had been "expedited" by a "factionally aligned political committee".