Diane Abbott's Hopes Of Getting The Labour Whip Back Have Been Dashed By Keir Starmer

But deputy party leader Angela Rayner says the MP should be re-admitted.
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Diane Abbott’s hopes of getting the Labour whip back appear to have been dashed by Keir Starmer.

The Labour leader said it was right to “support” the MP after the Tories’ biggest donor, Frank Hester, was alleged to have said she made him “want to hate all black women” and “should be shot”.

However, Starmer said that should not be “conflated” with the anti-Semitism accusations Abbott faces over a letter she sent to The Observer which said that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people have never been “subject to racism”.

She later apologised “unreservedly” for any “anguish” and said she withdrew the comments, but remains under investigation by the Labour Party.

Senior figures - including Ed Balls and John McDonnell - have called for Abbott to have the whip restored.

But on BBC Radio 2 today, Starmer insisted “that was for an entirely different issue” from the Hester row.

“That was allegations of anti-Semitism in relation to a letter, which is subject to an ongoing investigation which is separate from me,” he said.

The Labour leader said the party “must support” Abbott and insisted she was a “trailblazer” as parliament’s first black female MP.

Presenter Jeremy Vine then said: “In some countries there would be a statue of her, and yet she may not be able to fight her seat in the next election if you don’t hurry up and resolve this.”

But Starmer said: “All I’m saying is the abhorrent language used by the Tory donor about Diane Abbott is abhorrent, needs to be called out, the money needs to be returned. That’s one thing.

“There is a separate issue, which is Diane’s own language, which is subject to a different procedure. I don’t think we can conflate the two at this stage.”

HuffPost UK revealed yesterday that there was no imminent prospect of Abbott returning to the Labour fold.

But deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner later said she wanted to see the MP re-admitted to the parliamentary Labour party.

She said: “Personally, I would like to see Diane back but the Labour party has to follow its procedures.

“And for me, that is the most important thing – that we have made sure our party is fit to govern by making sure we have got complaint procedures that are robust and people can have confidence in.”


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