Diane Abbott unlikely to stand at the election despite getting Labour whip back

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Diane Abbott unlikely to stand at the election despite getting Labour whip back

Following conclusion of an antisemitism investigation Britain’s first black female MP is facing end of her 37-year career in parliament

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

According to several unconfirmed reports, Diane Abbott was present during the vote.
According to several unconfirmed reports, Diane Abbott was present during the vote.

Diane Abbott is unlikely to be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate in the forthcoming general election, despite having the party whip restored, Jewish News has been told.

The MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington — the first black woman elected to parliament — had been suspended from the party since last year over a letter written to The Observer, in which she likened the discrimination suffered by Jewish people, the Irish and Travellers.

Following the conclusion of a lengthy investigation, and a final decision by party chiefs Abbott the Labour whip restored on Tuesday afternoon, after she apologised and reportedly undertook antisemitism training.

But further concerns were raised about Abbott’s numerous posts on social media on antisemtism claims, along with her sustained attacks on leader Keir Starmer.

She also appeared to back Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to stand as an independent candidate by liking a post on X by his wife, Laura Alvarez.

Abbott, 70, is said to have been issued with a formal warning by the party and was told to complete an “antisemitism awareness course”. She did so in February, having apologised publicly and withdrawn her remarks.

Friends have also raised concerns about the MP’s health, and have been urging her to call time on her political career ahead of the July 4 election.

Sources confirmed to The Times newspaper, and to Jewish News, that Abbott has been given the chance to stand down as an MP after 37 years with dignity.

Claims that she had been offered a peerage in return remained unconfirmed.

Her exclusion  from the general election will allow the Labour leadership to impose a new candidate in Hackney North, where Abbott won a majority of more than 33,000 votes in 2019.

It is understood that Anntoinette Bramble, deputy mayor of Hackney council, Hackney councillor and Susan Fajana-Thomas, and Mete Coban, also a councillor in Stoke Newington, have expressed interest in standing if Abbott does not.

Sem Moema, the London assembly member for North East, who attempted to stand in Islington North could also be a contender.

Abbott was suspended as a Labour MP after suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people were not subject to racism “all their lives”.

She later apologised and withdrew the remarks, written in a letter to the Observer newspaper.

Keir Starmer condemned the letter and said he acted swiftly to suspend Ms Abbott. He said that the swiftness with which the MP had had the whip removed demonstrated “how far the Labour party has changed” and that Labour has “zero tolerance” of antisemitism.

When pressed repeatedly on whether Ms Abbott’s comments showed prejudice towards Jewish people, Starmer said at the time: “In my view, what she said was to be condemned, it was antisemitic.”

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