Keir Starmer Says Diane Abbott Is 'Free' To Stand As Labour Candidate In Huge U-Turn

It comes after days of uncertainty about whether the veteran MP would run.
Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott
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Keir Starmer has said Diane Abbott will be “free to go forward as a Labour candidate” in the upcoming election following a major backlash.

In a significant U-turn, the Labour leader announced said that the veteran Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP, could represent the party despite previous suggestions she had been barred.

He said: “Diane Abbott was elected in 1987, the first black woman MP. She’s been a trailblazer, she’s carved a path for other people to come into politics.

“The whip has been restored to her, and she is free to go forward as a Labour candidate... it’s formally a matter for the NEC, I’ve not expressed a view up until now, she is free to go forward as a Labour candidate.”

Abbott was suspended by the party in April last year over a letter she sent to The Observer suggesting that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism “all their lives”.

She had the whip returned to her earlier this week, but senior party sources suggested she would not stand for the party in the general election, sparking uproar from Abbott’s supporters.

Starmer said “no final decision” had been made over her future, but was contradicted yesterday by Angela Rayner, who said she backed her to be a Labour candidate.

The veteran MP told a rally earlier this week that Labour “just want me excluded from parliament” and added: “It is as if you are not allowed to be a Labour MP unless you are prepared to repeat everything the leader says.”

A spokesperson for the left-wing campaign group Momentum said: “You come at the queen, you better not miss.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Angela Rayner is pushing Keir Starmer around. Under pressure, he’s showing he’s a weak leader who’s losing control of the Labour Party.

“That makes it even clearer that you don’t know what you’re going to get if Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister – apart from higher taxes on you and your family.”

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