Starmer: No decision yet taken on whether Abbott will stand for Labour

Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott has not been barred from standing in the General Election, Sir Keir Starmer said.

The Labour leader said no decision had been taken on whether she would be allowed to defend her seat.

Ms Abbott, who in 1987 became the first black woman elected to Parliament, said she was “very dismayed” at suggestions she would be barred from standing.

The whip was restored on Tuesday, but Ms Abbott appeared to believe she had been barred from standing in Hackney North and Stoke Newington on July 4.

“Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate,” she told the BBC.

But she later wrote on social media: “I am very dismayed that numerous reports suggest I have been barred as a candidate.”

Sir Keir told reporters in Worcester “it’s not true” that Ms Abbott had been barred.

“No decision has been taken to bar Diane Abbott.

“The process that we were going through ended with the restoration of the whip the other day, so she’s a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and no decision has been taken barring her.”

The decision on whether she can stand will ultimately be taken by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC).

Crossbench peer Lord Woolley of Woodford told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “This is a very big moment, I would argue, for the Labour Party, and Diane, and Britain’s black communities, and I think they have about 48 hours to get this right.”

He added: “I think they’re in danger of not only disrespecting one of the most popular MPs in modern time, but also if they get this disrespectfully wrong, it’ll also be a slap in the face for Britain’s African and Caribbean communities.”

Six unions affiliated with Labour called for Ms Abbott to be allowed to stand.

Ms Abbott said she was “delighted to have the Labour whip restored and to be a member of the PLP”.

In an indication she would not follow her ally Jeremy Corbyn and stand as an independent, she said: “I will be campaigning for a Labour victory.”

Ex-Labour leader Mr Corbyn is launching his own campaign against his former party in Islington North later on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Labour has to be “transparent” about Ms Abbott’s position.

Tory chairman Richard Holden wrote to Sir Keir demanding answers about the process.

In other developments:

– Junior doctors in England will stage a full walkout from 7am on June 27 to 7am on July 2 in the latest strike over pay and conditions.

– Health Secretary Victoria Atkins accused them of a “highly cynical” move and said striking in the election campaign “shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff”.

– Labour highlighted plans to cut England’s NHS waiting lists through the use of 40,000 weekly evening and weekend appointments, scans and operations.

– Mr Sunak promised to create 100,000 more apprenticeships by ending “rip-off” degrees.

– SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn insisted his party can retain all its Scottish seats at Westminster despite a “slight dip” in the polls.

– Mr Sunak and Sir Keir will take part in an ITV leaders’ debate on June 4.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –