The UK’s Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has effectively blocked his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn from rejoining party ranks as an MP by refusing to restore his whip. It came a day after Corbyn’s suspension from the party was ended.
Corbyn’s whip – instructions on agenda and expectations for voting that formally recognize an MP’s party allegiance – was taken away on October 29, when his Labour membership was suspended. The punitive measures came in response to Corbyn’s reaction to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on alleged anti-Semitism in the party, which the former party leader called “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”
On Tuesday, the suspension was lifted by a disciplinary panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), but the next day Starmer announced that Corbyn’s whip will not be restored. This effectively makes him an independent MP representing the constituency of Islington North.
“It is the task of my leadership to fix what I have inherited,” Starmer said in a statement. “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.
The move had been predicted hours earlier by Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who said Corbyn’s reinstatement was “an absolute sham.”
“I hope this morning that Keir Starmer will have reflected on what has happened yesterday and make it clear that he is refusing to restore the whip,” she told BBC’s Radio 4.
Allegations of anti-Semitism have plagued Labour under Corbyn’s leadership and arguably played a significant part in a crushingly poor performance in last year’s general election, when it lost 60 parliament seats. He resigned his leadership position and was replaced by Starmer in April.
Quite extraordinary the extent to which an ageing, quiet spoken, allotment-tending, jam making, vegetarian socialist has struck terror in the heart of one of the most brutal, violent, exploitative and corrupt ruling establishments anywhere in the West. #Corbyn
Corbyn supporters believe the anti-Semitism issue was blown out of proportion by Corbyn’s political opponents in the party, who were unhappy with the direction he was taking Labour.
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