Starmer urges Corbynistas not to tie down Labour in legal action

Sir Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn
Sir Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn
10:43am, Mon 09 Nov 2020
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged supporters of Jeremy Corbyn not to tie up the party with costly legal actions in an attempt to secure his reinstatement.

Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party last month after claiming the scale of anti-Semitism in Labour had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

His comments came after an inquiry by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission found that under his leadership Labour had unlawfully discriminated against Jewish members.

It has since been reported that former shadow attorney general Baroness (Shami) Chakrabarti is working on a legal case to get his suspension revoked.

Labour (PA Archive)

However in an LBC radio phone-in, Sir Keir said the party should be focusing on campaigning and winning elections.

He said that he would raise the issue with Lady Chakrabarti – the author of an earlier, much-criticised report on anti-Semitism in the party – when he next spoke to her.

“I don’t think anybody wants to see yet more legal cases. I want to see the Labour Party focused on campaigning to win elections,” he said.

“We have got a massive set of elections next May, we have got a general election in 2024. We absolutely have to be focused on that.

“So I don’t want to see any Labour Party money or time tied up with yet more legal cases. I will talk to Shami about this when I next speak to her.”

In those circumstances I think it is very important to take tough decisions

Sir Keir denied it had been a “political decision” by general secretary David Evans to suspend Mr Corbyn, although he made clear he strongly supported the action against his predecessor.

“It is quite something when an Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which was set up by a Labour government, finds the Labour Party in breach of a law that the Labour government passed,” he said.

“In those circumstances I think it is very important to take tough decisions.”

Sir Keir said he was committed to putting in place measures to implement the commission’s recommendations by next month’s deadline.

“We have been anticipating this report. We have done quite a lot of the hard work already. We will hand that plan on time to commission and then I hope we can sign it off and start working to it,” he said.

“I think what those who were most pained by our failure to deal with anti-Semitism want is an honest acknowledgement by the Labour Party of the scale of the problem and to see us committed to changing it.

“That is the commitment I will give and I will deliver on.”

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