Starmer sparks furious backlash as he refuses to restore Labour whip to Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer has sparked a furious backlash from supporters of Jeremy Corbyn as he blocked him from sitting as a Labour MP despite his readmission as a party member.

The Labour leader said his predecessor had "undermined" work to restore trust and confidence in the party's ability to tackle anti-Semitism as he declined to restore the whip.

Mr Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member by the National Executive Committee on Tuesday, three weeks after he was suspended over his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report.

But Sir Keir said on Wednesday morning that he would not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The Labour leader 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 anti-Semitism.

"In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review."

Sir Keir's decision was welcomed by those who hoped to draw a line under the Corbyn era, but prompted an angry response from members who remain loyal to the former leader.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the action was "just plain wrong" and would cause "more division and disunity in the party".

Diane Abbott, who served as shadow home secretary under Mr Corbyn, said removing the whip "raises serious questions of due process".

Fellow former shadow cabinet minister Richard Burgon said: "Jeremy should immediately have the whip restored. At a time of national crisis, division in the Labour party serves nobody but the Tory Gov't."

Andrew Scattergood, chairman of the Corbyn-supporting grassroots activist movement Momentum, accused Sir Keir of "making it up as he goes along", describing the decision as a "blatant political attack on the left".

Momentum founder Jon Lansman said the move not to restore the whip had "driven a coach and horses through the party's disciplinary process, making it subservient to the parliamentary party and embedding "political interference".

Those on social media were quick to condemn the move.