Diane Abbott claims Labour won’t return whip because of her attacks on Keir Starmer

The independent MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington attends a 'Stand With Abbott Rally' in London
The independent MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington attends a 'Stand With Abbott Rally' in London - Alishia Abodunde/Getty Images
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Diane Abbott has claimed Labour will not return the whip for her allegedly anti-Semitic comments because she is too critical of the party leadership.

In a post on Twitter, Ms Abbott, who now sits as an independent MP, suggested she was being punished for speaking out against Sir Keir Starmer.

She had the whip suspended last April after writing a letter suggesting Jewish people are not subjected to the same racism as some other minorities.

The Labour leader is coming under mounting pressure to re-admit Ms Abbott to the parliamentary party in solidarity over the Tory donor racism row.

But the stand-off shows no sign of ending, with a senior Labour insider telling The Telegraph that the MP is very unlikely to be welcomed back unless she offers a full apology for past behaviour that has led critics to question how seriously she takes claims of an anti-Semitism crisis under Jeremy Corbyn.

The veteran Left-winger, a long-term ally of Mr Corbyn, implied Labour is withholding the whip from her because she has been too critical of the party’s direction of travel.

‘Leadership’s real agenda’

Posting a clip from BBC Radio 4 on Twitter, in which it was suggested she would not be welcomed back into the fold any time soon, she said: “I will not get the whip back because my ‘attacks on the leadership have if anything intensified.’

“This is the leadership’s real agenda.”

She also shared an article in which The Guardian’s political editor, Pippa Crerar, argued that her chances of getting the whip back “appear remote”.

In another post on X, the MP added: “More than one press report that I will not get the whip back because my tweets are critical of the leadership.

“This is from Starmer himself, who has already pronounced my guilt plus his staff. Making a mockery of the claim that ‘process must be followed’.”

In recent weeks, Ms Abbott has been openly critical of Labour’s economic policy and mocked shadow health secretary Wes Streeting for urging the NHS to stop doing “daft things” in the name of diversity.

Alleged anti-Semitism

She has been suspended from the parliamentary party for nearly a year, pending an investigation, after suggesting in a letter to The Observer that Jewish people do not suffer racism “all their lives”.

She later apologised for the remarks, claiming that they were a first draft sent to the newspaper in error. She has sat as an independent ever since.

Sir Keir is now facing calls from across the Labour spectrum – including senior moderate figures – to welcome her back into the fold after it was claimed that Frank Hester, the Tories’ biggest donor, said she makes people “want to hate all black women” and “should be shot”.

The party leadership appeared to be at odds on Thursday, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying that “personally I would like to see Diane back”, while Sir Keir rejected calls to restore the whip.

On Friday, Ms Abbott denied a report in The Independent that she refused an offer to rejoin the parliamentary party on the condition she gave a more “fulsome” apology and took anti-Semitism training.

Ms Abbott wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “A blatantly shoddy piece of journalism.

“I told the reporter that all the key ‘facts’ in his piece were false - on the record. Instead, he has led with the unattributable briefings from Labour party sources.

“The facts can be verified by LP. On the record.”

Thousands sign petitions

Meanwhile, two petitions demanding that the Labour leader restore the whip are gaining traction online. One, tabled by grassroots group Momentum, has around 2,000 signatures, while the other, sponsored by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity, has 6,000 supporters.

It comes as GPs are urging Mr Hester to resign from his health tech company, The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), in light of his alleged remarks about Ms Abbott.

The British Medical Association’s General Practice Committee passed a motion stating that it was “disgusted” by the claims and would like to see Mr Hester “resign and hand over his directorship [at TPP] with immediate effect”.

Mr Hester has admitted making “rude” comments about Ms Abbott but claimed they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

TPP has been approached for comment.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.