Corbyn's Fading Hopes Of Regaining Labour Whip Dampened By Controversial TV Interview

The former leader has been criticised for an appearance on Al Mayadeen in which he questioned the decision to send military assistance to Ukraine.
A Labour party source said of Corbyn's TV appearance: 'Clearly interventions like this don't help."
A Labour party source said of Corbyn's TV appearance: 'Clearly interventions like this don't help."
Guy Smallman via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn’s slim chances of being readmitted as a Labour MP have been further eroded after he questioned the west’s decision to arm Ukraine.

The former party leader, who sits as an independent MP in the Commons after he had the Labour whip removed, made the comments in an interview with the Al Mayadeen TV station.

The Lebanese channel is seen as sympathetic to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

In the interview, Corbyn said arming Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s invasion was not the way to bring about peace.

He said: “Pouring arms in [Ukraine] isn’t going to bring a better solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war. We might be in for years and years of a war in the Ukraine.

“What I find disappointing is that hardly any of the world’s leaders use the word ‘peace’, they always use the language of more war, and more bellicose war.

“Ukrainians are dying. Ukrainians have gone into exile — thousands and thousands — and Russian soldiers are dying, conscripted, young Russian soldiers are dying.”

He added: “This war is disastrous for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for the safety and security of the whole world. And therefore, there has to be more much more effort put into peace.”

Corbyn is still holding out hope of being Labour’s candidate for Islington North at the next election, a seat he has held since 1983.

But he cannot stand for the party in any election unless he receives the whip back.

Labour removed the whip from Corbyn in 2020 in a row over his response to an investigation into anti-Semitism in the party while he was leader.

Corbyn said at the time that while there was a problem with anti-Jewish racism in the party, the scale of it had been “dramatically overstated” by his political opponents and sections of the media.

Labour has said it will not restore the whip unless Corbyn apologises and retracts his comments.

A bid to restore the whip by his allies was rejected at a meeting of the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC) earlier this year.

Responding to his Al Mayadeen interview, a Labour source today told HuffPost UK: “Obviously we have to let the process run its course but clearly interventions like this do not help.

“I think the interview speaks for itself in terms of the choices he has made and continues to make and the arguments he wants to pursue.

“He’s obviously got a right to do that and I think it’s clear what path he has chosen.”

Asked whether Corbyn’s path did not align with that of the current leader, Keir Starmer, the party source said: “Correct.”

The Russian invasion has seen a number of nations commit military assistance to Ukraine — including historically neutral countries such as Germany and Sweden.

The UK has so far committed £2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the war began in February. The UK is also offering training to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked the UK for its assistance but stressed that his country needed more weapons if it is to avoid defeat.

A spokesperson for Corbyn told HuffPost UK: “Jeremy Corbyn has always condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including at public meetings and a large peace rally attended by thousands in Trafalgar Square in March.

“He has a long record as a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin and was one of the few MPs to speak out against his state visit to the UK in protest at Russia’s prosecution of the Chechen war.”

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