Labour investigation into Diane Abbott will conclude ‘within
days’, says Starmer

Diane Abbott: I am barred from standing as a Labour candidate

Diane Abbott has confirmed she has been barred from standing for Labour.

The veteran MP confirmed a report in The Times on Tuesday suggesting she’d been banned from standing for the party at the election on 4 July. The story appeared shortly after Abbott had been given back the Labour whip.

Speaking to the BBC, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: “Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate.”

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Abbott was suspended by the party more than a year ago after suggesting Jewish people did not experience racism, but rather prejudice similar to red heads. She swiftly apologised over the comments and said the letter published in The Observer had been an “initial draft” sent by mistake.

Abbott’s letter stated that Jewish, Irish and traveller communities have experienced “prejudice”, but added: “This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable”.

Earlier this year, Abbot was at the centre of a major political controversy after comments from a Conservative donor were reported by The Guardian. 

In March, Frank Hester, the chief executive of The Phoenix Partnership, said he was “deeply sorry” following reports he said Abbott made him “want to hate all black women”.

He also reportedly said that Abbott “should be shot”.

At the time, Keir Starmer was urged to withdraw the whip to Abbott, and the former Labour MP accused the party leadership of “digging in” over the issue.

Asked about the reported ban on Abbott standing on Wednesday morning, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told Times Radio: “I’m not aware of the circumstances.

“I know that Diane had the whip restored and her suspension lifted yesterday. This was following her suspension over remarks that she made for which she later apologised. I know at this stage, in terms of decisions about her candidature, as much as has been reported.”

He added: “What I’m interested in and concerned about are the eight million people who have been waiting on NHS waiting lists and the risk of that rising potentially to ten million if Rishi Sunak is given the keys to No10 again.”

Pressed whether he was comfortable about the disciplinary process which Abbott went through, Streeting said: “Not particularly, this has gone on for a very long time.”

Keir Starmer has faced a backlash from figures on the Labour left and within the party more broadly over the apparent refusal to allow Abbott, Britain’s first black female MP, to stand again for Labour.

A Newsnight report on Tuesday said the Labour investigation into Abbott was actually completed in December, with the veteran MP given a formal warning over her conduct and required to complete an antisemitism awareness course.

Politics.co.uk is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of the election. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here for all the latest news and analysis.

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