Keir Starmer outlines the party ‘process’ for deciding Diane Abbott’s Labour future

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Keir Starmer outlines the party ‘process’ for deciding Diane Abbott’s Labour future

The Labour leader appeared on ITV's This Morning where he was asked about Diane Abbott's future after her letter claiming Jews, Irish and the traveller community did not face racism every day

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer appears on ITV's This Morning
Keir Starmer appears on ITV's This Morning

Keir Starmer has confirmed suspended MP Diane Abbott now faces an investigation into her comments on racism after being asked on ITV’s This Morning programme if he has been considering expelling her.

But Jewish News understands that some of the MPs closest allies are among those attempting to persuade Abbott to announce her retirement ahead of the next general election, following the outcry over her letter published by The Observer last Sunday.

Abbott’s Hackney North and Stoke Newington local Labour party are scheduled to meet on Thursday, where her future as a candidate at the next election is set to be discussed.

Some friends are trying to persuade her to announce the end of her parliamentary career,in a seat she has represented since 1987, rather than face an investigation by the party.

Appearing on This Morning on Tuesday to promote Labour’s policy proposals on tackling violence against women and girls, the Labour leader was asked firstly about the suspension of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP.

Presenter Holly Willoughby told Starmer he had acted “very quickly” in suspending Abbott over her claims Jews, Irish and the traveller community do not experience racism “every day.”

But she added:”There is a call to go further than that.. that she should be expelled from the party. I imagine this is something you are considering?”

Starmer, who reiterated his pledge to “tear out antisemitism by its roots” in Labour, then said:”What happens now is there’s a process, there’s an investigation.

“Diane will say whatever she wants to say in response. Then they’ll have to be an outcome. So we’ll have to wait for that.”

Starmer stressed that the party took “swift action” over her letter to The Observer, and that it was “very important to me to act as swiftly as we did on Sunday.

He repeated his view that Abbott’s comments were indeed “antisemitic”.

Asked if it was “frustrating” that this story had distracted attention from his local election campaigning, he said “yes, of course it is.”

He said he had wanted to focus on violence against women and girls this week. “I want the discussion to be had about what we do to combat violence against women and girls,” he added.

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