Corbyn should be reinstated as Labour MP, says former shadow chancellor

Sir Keir Starmer should reinstate Jeremy Corbyn as a parliamentary Labour MP, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

Former Labour leader Mr Corbyn had the party whip withdrawn in October following his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in the party.

But Mr McDonnell said allowing him back into the Parliamentary Labour Party would demonstrate Labour leader Sir Keir’s desire to “unite” the party.

Asked on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme if it was time for Mr Corbyn to be readmitted, Mr McDonnell said: “Yes, it is.

General Election 2019
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Keir, when he was elected leader, said he would unite the party and that’s why he received such overwhelming support when he was elected leader.

“One step in demonstrating his uniting the party is to give Jeremy back the whip.

“I think it would be a really helpful act if Keir did that now.”

Islington North MP Mr Corbyn was suspended from Labour for claiming the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons”, less than an hour after the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report on anti-Semitism in the party.

Mr Corbyn issued a “public statement of clarification” in November, which he says was agreed with the party, saying concerns about anti-Semitism were “neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’”.

After a meeting of the disputes panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) the same day, Mr Corbyn was issued with a formal warning and his suspension was lifted.

Piers Morgan interview with Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Ian Forsyth/PA)

But, the following day, Mr Corbyn was told he could not sit as a Labour MP, with Sir Keir saying his predecessor had “undermined” work to restore trust and confidence in the party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.

Having the whip withdrawn is considered a serious punishment by a party.

While the MP can keep their seat in the House of Commons, they are classed as an independent.