Starmer’s decision to bar me a flagrant attack on democracy, says Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn has said Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to bar him from standing as a Labour candidate at the next election is a “flagrant attack” on democracy.

Former Labour leader Mr Corbyn, who currently sits as an independent MP, hit out at his successor, describing the move as a “divisive distraction from our overriding goal: to defeat the Conservative Party”.

It comes after Sir Keir for the first time unequivocally barred Mr Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election.

The Labour leader also welcomed the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) decision to lift the party out of two years of special measures over its past failings on antisemitism.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Islington North MP Mr Corbyn said any attempt to block his candidacy for the seat was “denial of due process”.

Keir Starmer’s statement about my future is a flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members

Jeremy Corbyn

He said: “Ever since I was elected as a Labour MP 40 years ago, I have fought on behalf of my community for a more equal, caring and peaceful society. Day-in day-out, I am focused on the most important issues facing people in Islington North: poverty, rising rents, the healthcare crisis, the safety of refugees, and the fate of our planet.

“Keir Starmer’s statement about my future is a flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members. It is up to them – not party leaders – to decide who their candidate should be.

“Any attempt to block my candidacy is a denial of due process, and should be opposed by anybody who believes in the value of democracy.”

He added: “At a time when the Government is overseeing the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, this is a divisive distraction from our overriding goal: to defeat the Conservative Party at the next general election.

“I am proud to represent the labour movement in Parliament through my constituency. I am focused on standing up for workers on the picket line, the marginalised, and all those worried about their futures.

“That is what I’ll continue to do. I suggest the Labour Party does the same.”

The Opposition leader used a speech on Wednesday to invite his opponents on the Labour left to leave the party, which he said is now “unrecognisable” from its form under Mr Corbyn.

“Let me be very clear, Jeremy Corbyn will not stand at the next general election as a Labour Party candidate,” Sir Keir said in east London.

“What I said about the party changing I meant and we are not going back.”

On the “important day” for Labour, Sir Keir welcomed the EHRC’s decision.

The equalities watchdog had been monitoring Labour since ruling in 2020 that it was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination under Mr Corbyn.

On Wednesday the watchdog judged that, under Sir Keir, Labour has improved its complaints and training procedures to protect current and future party members.

The Labour leader reiterated his vow that anyone who plays down antisemitism will be treated with “zero patience or tolerance” and acknowledged it is not “the end of the road” for tackling the issue.

Sir Keir was introduced to the podium in Toynbee Hall by the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl.

She said the idea of addressing the audience before the Labour leader “not too long ago” would “simply would be an impossibility”.

“At the next election I believe all British Jews will once again be free to vote according to their political persuasion rather than out of fear,” she said.

Mr Corbyn was suspended from the parliamentary party over his response to EHRC’s damning report in 2020.

He is expected to speak to Labour members in his Islington North constituency before deciding his next steps, the PA news agency understands.

But his allies expect Sir Keir to have the powers to prevent any challenge for the candidacy against the leadership’s wishes.

Diane Abbott, one of Mr Corbyn’s oldest allies, said he has “no intention of standing as an independent”.

Asked whether she would like to see him running without Labour’s backing, the former shadow home secretary told the News Agents podcast: “No, no. Jeremy has been a member of the Labour Party from before either of you were alive.”