A leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that Alastair Campbell should be let back into the Labour party if he pledges not to promote the Liberal Democrats in future elections.
Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said that she wanted the automatic expulsion of Tony Blair’s former aide to be “reviewed” by party officials.
Campbell has vowed to appeal against the decision to boot him out of the party after he admitted on TV that he had voted for the Lib Dems in the European parliament elections in order to show support for a second Brexit referendum.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Chakrabarti urged a speedy resolution to the disciplinary process, adding that Labour should seek to reassure the millions of its supporters who voted for other parties for “heartfelt” reasons last week.
The Labour peer said: “As to Alastair Campbell or any other individual who has expressed public support for other parties, I hope that they can come forward and talk about their future intentions and the case can be reviewed….What I want to happen is for this automatic exclusion to be reviewed.
“Merely voting for another party is not in itself grounds for exclusion or expulsion or anything like that. I want the large numbers of people who did that last week for heartfelt reasons to rest assured.”
Deputy leader Tom Watson has called the expulsion of Campbell “spiteful”, but Chakrabarti said “I don’t believe that was the intention”.
“I would not like to see this drag on...that will depend on what he says about his intentions. Political parties have rules about people who express public support for other parties. They’re a bit automatic. But now there’ll be a review, which is appropriate.
“This thing called auto-exclusion. The crucial thing is not to dance around the language of the rule, but to look at the practical outcomes.”
Campbell has 14 days in which to provide evidence that he was not ineligible for membership.
Since he was kicked out of the party, former HQ staff and Blairite peer Lord Falconer have said Campbell did not actually break the rules as he went public after he voted rather than beforehand.
Former home secretary Charles Clarke has since said he voted Lib Dem and ITV reported on Thursday morning that Cherie Blair had also backed Vince Cable’s party in the Euro elections and was ‘happy for it to be known’.
Watson published a survey of Labour members and supporters on Wednesday that showed 84% of those who responded backed an online ballot to give them a say over the party’s Brexit policy.
Corbyn said ahead of a trip to Dublin that “the only way out” of the Parliamentary deadlock on Brexit was to put the issue ‘back to the people’, either in a general election or a referendum.