Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as Labour candidate at next election, Keir Starmer says

Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election, Keir Starmer has said.

In a speech on Wednesday morning Sir Keir told reporters: “Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at the next general election as a Labour Party candidate. What I said about the Labour Party changing I meant and we are not going back.”

Mr Corbyn, who has been MP for Islington north since 1983, has been sitting as an independent since Sir Keir withdrew the Labour whip from him in October 2020.

He has not yet said whether he would stand as an independent against an official Labour candidate. Some supporters believe he could win a contest because of strong local support.

Sir Keir made his announcement in a speech to mark the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s announcement that it had concluded its monitoring of the Labour Party for antisemitism.

The opposition leader said antisemitism was “an evil” and “no political party that cultivates it deserves to hold power”.

“Today is an important moment in the history of the Labour Party. It’s taken many, many months of hard work and humility to get here,” Sir Keir said.

“It’s meant rebuilding trust, not just with the Jewish community but with all those who were rightly appalled by the culture of the party and the previous leadership.

“When I became leader, I said I would turn Labour around and give it back to the British people and the most important and urgent part of that was tearing out antisemitism by its roots.”

Critics of Mr Corbyn say antisemitism ran rife in the party under his watch, while his defenders say the problem was exaggerated by opponents to undermine him politically.

The former Labour leader was suspended in October 2020 for saying that that while “one antisemite is one too many” he believed that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media”.

He was readmitted to the party as a rank-and-file member by a disciplinary panel, but then denied the parliamentary whip after a personal intervention by Sir Keir.

While Labour local parties have some degree of control over who they select as candidates, in practice the leadership exerts a significant degree of control and can effectively ban people from standing.

A spokesperson for the Momentum campaign group, which formed around Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign, said:

“Labour is a democratic socialist party – it’s written on our membership cards.

“This Party does not belong to one man alone – it belongs to its members & trade unions.

“It should be for Labour members in Islington North to decide their candidate – that is their democratic right.”

Keir Starmer previously served on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench as shadow Brexit secretary, and won the leadership explicitly pledging to retain many of the policies adopted under his predecessor.

He had previouslysaid of Mr Corbyn: “He’s a colleague, he’s a friend, and he’s led us through some really difficult times in the Labour party… I respect him and thank him for what he’s done.”

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