‘Any attempt to block my candidacy should be opposed’: Corbyn accuses Starmer of ‘flagrant attack’ on his future

Politics

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Sir Keir Starmer of “a flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members” after he ruled out allowing the former party leader to stand as a Labour candidate in the next general election.

Earlier today, marking a watchdog’s decision to no longer monitor the party over antisemitism, Sir Keir said his predecessor would have to stand as an independent if he wished to remain a member of parliament.

Asked if Mr Corbyn would be allowed to run under the party’s banner, Sir Keir – who served in his predecessor’s shadow cabinet – said: “Let me be very clear about that. Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the general election as a Labour Party candidate.

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“What I said about the party changing, I meant that. We are not going back. And that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.”

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‘Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour’

Responding to Sir Keir’s comments, Mr Corbyn released a statement saying it should be up to his constituents to decide who their candidate is.

“Ever since I was elected as a Labour MP 40 years ago, I have fought on behalf of my community for a more equal, caring and peaceful society.

“Day in and day out, I am focused on the most important issues facing people in Islington North: poverty, rising rents, the healthcare crisis, the safety of refugees, and the fate of our planet.

“Keir Starmer’s statement about my future is a flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members.

“It is up to them – not party leaders – to decide who their candidate should be.

“Any attempt to block my candidacy is a denial of due process and should be opposed by anybody who believes in the value of democracy.

“At a time when the government is overseeing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, this is a divisive distraction from our overriding goal: to defeat the Conservative Party at the next general election.

“I am proud to represent the labour movement in parliament through my constituency.

“I am focused on standing up for workers on the picket line, the marginalised, and all those worried about their futures.

“That is what I’ll continue to do.

“I suggest the Labour Party does the same.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had been scrutinising the Labour Party for more than two years since ruling it was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination, and demanding changes over its law-breaking handling of antisemitism under Sir Keir’s predecessor.

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

Speaking after the decision was published, Sir Keir called it an “important moment in the history of the Labour Party” that had taken “many, many months of hard work and humility”.

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The EHRC’s report into the Labour Party was published in October 2020 and detailed the “breakdown of trust between the party, its Jewish members and the wider Jewish community”.

The report was critical of the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

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‘Are you to blame for Labour’s antisemitism problem?’

Immediately after its publication, Mr Corbyn claimed “the scale of the problem” of Labour antisemitism allegations was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.

He also said he did not accept all of the EHRC report’s findings in comments that prompted his suspension from the party.

It led to him being kicked off Labour’s backbenches by Sir Keir – meaning he now sits as an independent MP – but he remains a member of the wider party.

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‘Antisemitism has no place in our society’

Mr Corbyn subsequently sought to clarify his remarks and a five-member disciplinary panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee decided that he should be reinstated.

But Sir Keir stuck to his decision after facing pressure from MPs not to allow him back into the parliamentary party.

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