Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he will not restore the whip to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn because he “undermined” work in restoring trust and confidence in the party’s ability to tackle antisemitism.
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 antisemitism.
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 in a statement: “Since I was elected Labour leader, I have made it my mission to root out antisemitism 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.”
The move was welcomed by the President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, who said: “Despite the EHRC’s finding that the Party had acted unlawfully under Mr Corbyn’s watch, Jeremy Corbyn’s initial reaction to the report was dismissive and he has been shameless and remorseless for what he has put the Jewish community through. Meanwhile, Labour’s disciplinary process is clearly still not fit for purpose.
“Keir Starmer has now taken the appropriate leadership decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. We continue to say that ‘zero tolerance’ must mean precisely that, whether for antisemites or their apologists.”
Sir Keir’s decision will likely prompt a furious backlash from the faction which remains loyal to the former leader, but will be welcomed by those who hoped to draw a line under the Corbyn era.
van der Zyl said earlier that Starmer must refuse to restore the whip, adding that the decision to reinstate Mr Corbyn was an “absolute sham” and shows the Labour Party “have not learned anything at all”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the former leader’s case has “clearly been rushed through and judged by a politicised panel stuffed with his own supporters”.
Mr Corbyn was suspended from Labour last month for his response to the EHRC report which found the party had broken the law in its handling of antisemitism complaints.
He claimed the scale of antisemitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents both inside and outside Labour, along with the media.
But he later attempted to clarify his comments in a statement to the party, saying concerns about antisemitism are “neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’”.
The NEC’s move to reinstate Mr Corbyn sparked outrage from Labour MPs and Jewish leaders, and prompted reports that former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish, could quit the party.
She said on Tuesday evening she cannot “comprehend” why it is acceptable for Mr Corbyn to “be a Labour MP if he thinks antisemitism is exaggerated and a political attack”.
Dame Margaret tweeted: “This is a broken outcome from a broken system.”
Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed Mr Corbyn’s suspension had been “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”.
However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said the former leader’s readmission is the “correct, fair and unifying decision”.
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