Jeremy Corbyn knows what he must do to rejoin Labour, says Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has revealed he has not spoken to Jeremy Corbyn in more than a year and said the ball was in his predecessor’s court when it came to his reinstatement to the parliamentary Labour party.

The Labour leader said they had not talked since the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism in the party in October 2020.

Corbyn was suspended from Labour after he said antisemitism in the party was “overstated”, following publication of the report. His suspension was lifted by the party’s national executive committee after he issued a conciliatory statement clarifying his remarks, but Starmer ordered that the Labour whip be withheld from Corbyn, effectively suspending him from the parliamentary party.

Asked on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast whether he would restore the Labour whip to his predecessor, who is now sitting as an independent MP, before the next election, Starmer said: “It’s up to him … He knows what he must do in order to move this forward. He’s not chosen to do so – that’s his choice.”

When asked whether it was likely Corbyn would not be able to stand as a Labour candidate, Starmer replied: “I don’t know, but at the moment that may be the case.”

The Labour leader’s refusal to readmit Corbyn as an MP prompted a furious backlash from leftwingers, including Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Richard Burgon, who accused Starmer of jeopardising party unity.

Corbyn has been threatening legal action over Starmer’s decision. He believes his suspension was handled unfairly and was the object of political interference. Court backlogs could mean it may be some time before the case is heard, even if he does proceed.

In January, Corbyn lost a legal fight to force Labour to hand over documents his lawyers believed would help him show that an agreement to fully readmit him to the party following his suspension had been reneged upon. Labour denied in court that any such deal existed.

Starmer, who repeatedly promised during his leadership campaign to tackle antisemitism, also told Political Thinking that he hoped Luciana Berger, a Jewish MP who left the party over its handling of antisemitism cases during Corbyn’s tenure, would want to rejoin.


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