Starmer warned bids to dodge questions on Corbyn to backfire as leader broke EHRC rule

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Jeremy Corbyn was reinstated as a party member on Tuesday – three weeks after being suspended in the aftermath of the damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into anti-Semitism. Sir Keir Starmer is expected by critics to dodge questions on the matter by claiming the process had nothing to do with his leadership as it was run independently by the EHRC. But speaking on Newscast, BBC’s Iain Watson warned the move could backfire. He said: “First of all, although it’s an independent process, nonetheless he did express an opinion on that process, he did say he supported the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn.

“And certainly some people who are supporters of Jeremy Corbyn would say ‘look, the EHRC said there should be no political interference in this type of cases and simply indicating you support something as party leader might be to influence that process’.

“So they are not convinced that Keir Starmer stuck to the letter of the EHRC law.

“Secondly, there have been background negotiations to try and find an acceptable way forward.

“Could Jeremy Corbyn apologise as some on the left urged him to do? Would a clarification be enough?

“What kind of sanctions would he face?

“So I don’t think today’s decision came entirely out of the blue.

“But I think there is a willingness of the current leadership to shut this down because a long-running sore in the midst of a pandemic is not really what they wanted at this stage.”

Sir Keir has since said he will not restore the whip to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn because he “undermined” work in restoring trust and confidence in the party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.

Despite the move by the National Executive Committee, Sir Keir has declined to restore the whip to the former opposition leader – meaning he will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Sir Keir said in a statement: “Since I was elected Labour leader, I have made it my mission to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party.

“I know that I will be judged on my actions, not my words. The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.

“It is the task of my leadership to fix what I have inherited. That is what I am resolute in doing and I have asked for an independent process to be established as soon as possible.

“I’m the Leader of the Labour Party, but I’m also the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.

“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.”

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Sir Keir’s decision has prompted a backlash from the faction which remains loyal to the former leader, but has been welcomed by those who hoped to draw a line under the Corbyn era.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed the decision but said Labour’s disciplinary process is “clearly still not fit for purpose”.

She said: “Despite the EHRC’s finding that the Party had acted unlawfully under Mr Corbyn’s watch, Jeremy Corbyn’s initial reaction to the report was dismissive and he has been shameless and remorseless for what he has put the Jewish community through.

“Meanwhile, Labour’s disciplinary process is clearly still not fit for purpose. Keir Starmer has now taken the appropriate leadership decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

“We continue to say that ‘zero tolerance’ must mean precisely that, whether for anti-Semites or their apologists.”

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