Kay Burley grills Anneliese Dodds on Jeremy Corbyn
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Labour plans to press ahead with the selection of a new MP in Islington North, the former seat of Jeremy Corbyn before he was suspended after allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. A source close to Sir Keir said there is “no chance” he would bring Corbyn back but former Labour MP Tom Harris said the prospect is “unavoidable”.
Mr Harris said: “Starmer has deliberately painted himself into a corner where Corbyn’s return to the ranks is unthinkable and would spell the end to any authority he has. It’s unlikely in the extreme that Corbyn would wish to depart the scene quietly, pledging loyal support to whichever official candidate the party chose to replace him.
The former Department for Transport Minister said the Labour leader knows there is no way back for his predecessor that allows him “to retain any credibility” adding that he “can’t tolerate any prospect” of Corbyn regaining his seat.
Mr Harris added: “As events go, Corbyn’s replacement as a Labour candidate would be volatile enough. But this showdown comes at a point where the Labour leader is fighting on another front as he seeks to reshape the party into an electorally viable one. The historic link between the party and the trade unions which fund it is as near breaking point today as it has been at any time in the last century.”
Plans are reportedly being drawn up to avoid Corbyn’s return, including putting a candidate in a race against him for the Islington North seat, however, the chances of beating him are low as he has represented the constituency for just shy of 40 years.
One insider told the Sunday Times: “We are determined to bring this to a head.
“The current position is not sustainable.”
Mr Corbyn, now 72, was suspended from Labour in October 2020 after he responded to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism in the party.
He said: “One antisemite is one too many, but 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.
“That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome.
“While I do not accept all of [the report’s] findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
Mr Harris said if Sir Keir does maintain his position we could “see a new Labour party”.
He said: “If Starmer holds the line and if his trade union opponents similarly express no willingness to compromise their own views on policy (and on Corbyn), we could see a new Labour Party, supported and funded by fewer trade unions, emerging from the wreckage of Corbynism.
“It would be leaner, less beholden to the movement’s ancient vested interests, more ideologically certain of what it believes, and led by the same man who lit the blue touch paper. A man who recognises that there are few downsides to becoming a hate figure on Britain’s extreme Left.
Reports have previously suggested that Corbyn was encouraged by his inner circle to turn his charity ‘Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project’ into a fully pledged political party.
Announced in December 2020 it aims to “bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world”.
But a spokesperson for the charity said there were currently “no plans” to do so.
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