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LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer must restore the party whip to his immediate predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted today.
Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party in October, after 54 years of membership, over his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on Labour’s handling of anti-semitism complaints.
Labour readmitted him the following month, after his suspension had been reviewed by members of the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
Mr Corbyn had said that “the scale of the problem [of anti-semitism in the Labour Party] was dramatically overstated for political reasons,” but he later insisted that his original statement had not been intended to “belittle concerns” about anti-semitism, clarifying that “concerns about anti-semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.”
He said that he supported the current leadership’s acceptance of the EHRC report in full.
Despite this, Sir Keir has continued to resist calls to allow the former party leader to sit as a Labour MP, claiming that he had undermined efforts to restore the party’s reputation in the Jewish community.
MPs and activists have consistently called for his reinstatement, with Jewish residents of his Islington North constituency writing an open letter in his defence.
Mr McDonnell said that allowing Mr Corbyn back into the Parliamentary Labour Party would demonstrate Sir Keir’s desire to “unite” the party.
Asked on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme if it was time for Mr Corbyn to be readmitted, Mr McDonnell said: “Yes, it is.
“Keir, when he was elected leader, said he would unite the party and that’s why he received such overwhelming support when he was elected leader.
“One step in demonstrating his uniting the party is to give Jeremy back the whip.
“I think it would be a really helpful act if Keir did that now.”
Back in November, Sir Keir pledged that the situation would be “kept under review,” with a spokesman claiming that the decision to readmit his predecessor to the party was taken at Labour headquarters.
The Socialist Campaign Group warned at the time that a failure to restore the whip to Mr Corbyn would be “damaging to the Labour Party.”
The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy is encouraging party members to contact Sir Keir urging that he reverse his “anti-democratic decision” to keep Mr Corbyn excluded from the parliamentary party.
Labour has been approached for comment.
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