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Diane Abbott ‘free’ to run for Labour in General Election, says Keir Starmer

31 May 2024 4 minute read
Diane Abbott. Photo Yui Mok PA Wire/PA Images

Diane Abbott is “free” to stand as a Labour candidate in the General Election, Sir Keir Starmer has said after a days-long row over her political future overshadowed Labour’s campaign.

The Labour leader on Friday gave the green light for her candidacy, after his previous refusal to make a judgment led to growing tensions in the party.

Sir Keir told reporters during a campaign visit to Scotland: “The whip has obviously been restored to her now and she is free to go forward as a Labour candidate.”

He praised the Labour veteran as a “trailblazer”, saying: “Diane Abbott was elected in 1987, the first black woman MP.

“She has carved a path for other people to come into politics and public life.”

For days, Sir Keir declined to say whether Ms Abbot would be defending her Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat on July 4, as he faced claims of a “purge” of left-wing candidates.


Ms Abbott was suspended from Labour last year after she suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience prejudice, but not racism, sparking a long-running process which saw her sit as an Independent MP.

She had the Labour whip restored this week, but it was briefed out that she might be “barred” from running for the party in the General Election.

Labour sources said Ms Abbott will be the Labour candidate in her long-held London constituency.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to ratify the decision when it meets on Tuesday.

Sir Keir declined to say whether he had spoken to Ms Abbott on Friday, but it is understood he has not.

Earlier in the day, the Labour leader was still insisting that no decision had yet been taken, distancing himself from his deputy Angela Rayner and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who had both backed Ms Abbott’s candidacy.

Ms Rayner said “I don’t think there’s any reason” why Ms Abbott should not stand, with Mr Sarwar later said “I agree with Angela”.

Draw a line

Sir Keir will be hoping that his taking a stance will draw a line under the matter, after questions about internal Labour Party affairs dominated the opening days of his election campaign.

He reportedly did not express his view on Ms Abbott’s future at his earlier campaign rally near Glasgow to avoid overshadowing his announcement of a green energy transition under a Labour government.

Sir Keir was earlier this week accused by Ms Abbott of an “appalling” cull of left-wingers.

The suspension of Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who was MP for Brighton Kemptown, and the decision not to endorse candidate Faiza Shaheen in Chingford and Woodford Green have also come in for criticism.

Ms Shaheen said she was in shock and felt she was the victim of a “huge injustice” after not being endorsed as the Labour candidate in her north London seat.

She was blocked after liking a series of social media posts on social media site X that allegedly downplayed antisemitism accusations.

Supporters of Ms Shaheen are expected to hold a rally in her constituency later on Friday, with organisers saying they were “appalled” by her treatment.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Angela Rayner is pushing Keir Starmer around.

“Under pressure, he’s showing he’s a weak leader who’s losing control of the Labour Party.

“That makes it even clearer that you don’t know what you’re going to get if Keir Starmer becomes prime minister, apart from higher taxes on you and your family.”

As campaigning continues, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was visiting a farm in Cheshire, following an announcement by the Conservatives to crack down on fly-tippers by adding points to their driving licences.

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2 days ago

“Running with the fox and Hunting with the Hounds” just about sums up Keir Starmer.He publically supports Vaughan Gething after all his problems and then supports a person without any Welsh connection to fight The Swansea seat in the General Election!! Is it any wonder that people wonder exactly what he stands for?

Accidental Larger Sandpipers
Accidental Larger Sandpipers
2 days ago

I wonder why Abbott would want to be a Labour candidate at this point. The same people who last year were desperate to throw her out of the party now hail her as a “trailblazer”, largely because they can use her as a stick to beat the Tories over the donor who was caught making racist comments about her. They will turn on her again tomorrow if they think there’s a headline in it.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
2 days ago

Well we will find out in one week’s time when nominations close on 7 June.

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
2 days ago

If I were her, after discussion with my Local Constituency, I would be inclined to tell him to ;take a running jump’ and would stand as an Independent. Then she at least, could express herself according to her conscience and beliefs, Why give this man who has treated her with contempt and cruelty another ‘win’ for HIS Labour?

John Ellis
John Ellis
2 days ago

Personally, I think that I’ll suspend judgement on this matter until I hear what verdict on Abbott Labour’s NEC decides, in the coming week, to declare.

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