Keir Starmer should 'drop it' and restore whip to Corbyn, says John McDonnell

11 May 2021, 22:14

By Fiona Jones

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says Sir Keir Starmer should "drop it" and restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iain Dale, Mr McDonnell said the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is doing well due to his highly successful peace and justice project.

Jeremy Corbyn, now an independent MP, had his whip removed in November 2020 over his response to a human rights watchdog report on anti-Semitism in Labour ranks.

He released a statement insisting that the scale of anti-Semitism was "dramatically overstated" - to which Sir Keir, who took over in April, responded that those who think the issue had been "exaggerated" should "be nowhere near the Labour Party".

Initially, Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party over these comments but was reinstated - but still does not have the whip back, which John McDonnell branded a "real mistake by Keir."

"Drop it and let him back in," Mr McDonnell said, "he just needs the Chief Whip and the Leader to say come back. And Jeremy would be like a shot back. I don't understand why they've done that to him."

Iain Dale countered that there would be "no plus" to Sir Keir doing this: "The papers would go mad, he'd get a huge amount of criticism from the right of the party."

"What was bizarre is that Jeremy got reinstated as a party member and then withdraws the whip and no one completely understood why at that stage if you've been reinstated as a party member, because there's no disciplinary matters outstanding.

"Just let him back in. It's beginning to look a bit personal and I don't like that."

Iain suggested Mr McDonnell thought Keir Starmer was being "vindictive", to which he responded, "I just think it's personal and I don't like it. He should be allowed back in because actually he's been a Labour member for 50 years. He's been a Labour MP for all these years and served his constituency well."

The former Shadow Chancellor also condemned the current leader for his shadow cabinet reshuffle, following Labour's devastating election results on Thursday.

"You don't dump on colleagues," he told Iain, revealing he was "annoyed" about Sir Keir Starmer's move.

You can watch the full interview again here.