Skip to content
Home > General Election Latest: Sarwar Backs Abbott As Labour Split Deepens

General Election Latest: Sarwar Backs Abbott As Labour Split Deepens

Sir Keir Starmer said he hasn’t spoken to Diane Abbot in months as he declined to yield to calls from members of his front bench for her to be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate at the election.

Speaking at a campaign event in Inverclyde to launch Labour’s green energy plans, the party leader repeated his line that “no decision has been taken” on Ms Abbot’s future in the party.

However, asked when he last spoke in person to the veteran Left-wing politician, who is at the centre of a Labour party row over purging candidates, Sir Kier said: “I think I spoke to her a few weeks ago, maybe a few months ago, in the Commons.”

He added that there has been “no decision to bar Diane”, contrary to her previous claims. “Obviously she’s got the whip back and she’s been a trailblazer for many years, but the fact remains no decision has been taken.”

He was speaking alongside his deputy Angela Rayner and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who have both publicly backed Ms Abbott, who recently had the whip returned after being suspended over an anti-Semitism row.

Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, and Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, have also expressed misgivings about the treatment of Britain’s first black female MP.

Defending the party’s investigation into Ms Abbott, Labour’s shadow science secretary Peter Kyle told Times Radio the party was “responding to a situation that Diane herself, got herself into” and was making sure that “everybody who represents it, represents the Labour Party in the 2020s, facing forward”.

Follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments.