Keir Starmer grilled over Jeremy Corbyn credentials
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Earlier this week, Christian Wakeford defected from the Conservative Party to join Labour’s ranks, a move announced just moments before Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions. The former Tory MP reportedly once branded Labour “a bunch of ‘c***s”. And left-wingers are now using his admission to the party to justify a new bid for Mr Corbyn’s return.
They allege that banning Mr Corbyn from sitting as a Labour MP is now “unjustifiable” given Mr Wakeford was allowed to defect after making the slur.
The Bury South MP reportedly used the four-letter word against Labour last year after it opposed cuts to Universal Credit.
The bid to the current leader over Mr Corbyn’s position has been outlined in a motion tabled for the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) this week.
The motion can be seen as challenging Sir Keir’s ambition to draw a line under the Corbyn-era of the party.
It comes after just last week, Sir Keir boasted about the changes to what he referred to as “my Labour Party”.
The leader welcomed Mr Wakeford into the party’s ranks with open arms, boasting that his decision to switch showed “Labour has changed”.
However, the move has caused derision in the party’s ranks with the Labour Left questioning why Mr Corbyn is still forced to sit as an independent MP more than a year after he was thrown out of the party following a bitter row over antisemitism.
The former leader is also not permitted to stand as a Labour candidate in the next general election as a result of the ban imposed in October 2020.
Within the motion for Labour’s NEC meeting, in a scathing attack of the move, Fire Brigades Union president Ian Murray calls the ban a “deeply divisive act by the leadership of the party”.
He adds that the ban is “moving us further from the unity required” to take on the Tories.
Mr Murray also claims that maintaining the ban was “extremely disrespectful” to voters in Mr Corbyn’s Islington North seat, which he first won in 1983.
When speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Murray addressed Mr Wakeford’s defection and also said that Mr Corbyn’s suspension was “unjust” and that it is “an insult to every Labour Party member”.
He said: “We have just seen a right-wing Tory become a Labour MP while boasting he has not changed his political views.
“Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP for 37 years, remains unjustly suspended. This is an insult to every Labour Party member.”
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Mr Murray isn’t the only one expressing doubts over Mr Wakeford’s defection though with other supporters of Mr Corbyn also chiming in to voice they’d back the bid to see him return.
Ex-Labour chairman Ian Lavery and a known ally of Mr Corbyn expressed his dismay that Mr Wakeford was “accepted with open arms” while the former leader “remains an outcast”.
He said it was “astonishing… how an individual who has a visible anti-Labour track record, voted against free school meals for kids and called the Labour Party a bunch of c***s is accepted with open arms, and the former leader of the party, a man with an impeccable Labour history, remains an outcast without the whip.”
While Leeds MP Richard Burgon, who served on Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, tweeted: “You can’t say the Labour Party should be a broad church then not restore the whip to former leader Jeremy Corbyn.”
He was stripped of the Labour whip after refusing to accept the findings of a damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on antisemitism under his leadership.
The former leader claimed antisemitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” after the equalities watchdog slammed his handling of the issue.
It is unclear whether the bid to have Mr Corbyn reinstated would be put to a vote at the NEC amid claims that Corbyn allies did not want to risk a defeat by Sir Keir’s supporters on the committee.
The Mail on Sunday adds that allies of Sir Keir insisted that Mr Corbyn was still refusing to give a proper apology for his remarks on antisemitism, but would regain the party whip if he did.
A Labour spokesperson said: “It’s been made very clear to Jeremy Corbyn what he must do to move this forward. That hasn’t changed, it’s in his hands.”
Mr Corbyn was approached by Express.co.uk for comment
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