Starmer: ‘Very difficult’ to see how Corbyn can regain Labour whip

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Starmer: ‘Very difficult’ to see how Corbyn can regain Labour whip

Party leader says his predecessor's comments criticising Nato means it's unlikely will represent Labour at another general election.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Sir Keir Starmer (left) alongside former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre)
Sir Keir Starmer (left) alongside former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre)

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said that Jeremy Corbyn’s latest comments on Nato make it “very difficult” to see how his predecessor could ever rejoin the party in the Commons.

Corbyn was suspended from Labour in 2020 over comments in response to the EHRC report on antisemitism. He was later reinstated as a Labour member but Sir Keir refused to allow him to reclaim the Labour whip, meaning Corbyn now sits as an independent MP.

Last week Corbyn made a series of controversial comments in which he criticised Nato and suggested that it should be disbanded. In an interview with Times Radio, he said: “Do military alliances bring peace? Or do they actually encourage each other and build up to a greater danger?

“I don’t blame Nato for the fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine. What I say is look at the thing historically, and look at the process that could happen at the end of the Ukraine war”.

In view of these remarks, diametrically at odds with Labour’s official position on Nato, Sir Keir was asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme whether Corbyn could now be fully readmitted to the parliamentary party.

He said: “It is very difficult to see how that situation can now be resolved.”

Corbyn, he said, “lost the whip because of his response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in relation to antisemitism, but I made it very clear, the first thing I said as party leader was that I was going to tear out antisemitism by its roots in our party.

“I’ve also made it clear that our position in the Labour Party is not to accept the false equivalence between Russian aggression and the acts of Nato.”

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