Why Jeremy Corbyn is technically not a Labour MP – but could be planning a huge comeback

Keir Starmer grilled over Jeremy Corbyn credentials

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Jeremy Corbyn has served as MP for Islington North since 1983, retaining his seat despite Labour’s enormous setbacks in the 2019 general election. However, Mr Corbyn has not had any power as a Labour MP for more than a year, serving in title only, due to the removal of the whip and the implications of that sentence.

In October 2020, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission published findings from its investigation into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

The human rights watchdog found Labour responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination within the party, and laid some of the blame on “serious failings” during Jeremy Corbyn’s four-and-a-half years as party leader.

Mr Corbyn responded by saying anti-Semitism was “absolutely abhorrent” and “one anti-Semite is one too many” in the party.

But he then said: “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.”

Labour responded rapidly, withdrawing the whip from Mr Corbyn almost immediately.

Having the whip withdrawn is the equivalent to suspension from the party – the seat in Parliament is retained, but the MP is not serving within the party, and is essentially an independent MP until the whip is restored.

Mr Corbyn has, therefore, not been a Labour MP for more than a year now.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his predecessor had undermined Labour’s work on “restoring trust” with the Jewish community, and suggested the former party leader should issue a full apology before his whip could be restored.

He added that the situation is unlikely to be resolved before the next general election – but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the end of Jeremy Corbyn.

Sir Keir said: “He’s not got the whip at the moment – so he’ll be able to run but wouldn’t be able to as a Labour MP.”

This means that, if Mr Corbyn hopes to retain his seat of 55 years, he’ll have to run as an independent and hope the people of Islington North vote for him, rather than the Labour Party.

With a general election unlikely until at least 2023, no decision has been publicly taken by Mr Corbyn.

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But rumours are mounting, with some now expecting him to follow the example of Ken Livingstone, who stood as London mayor in 2000 despite not having been selected to run for Labour.

In 2019, when Labour lost any hope of presenting a strong opposition to the Conservatives, Mr Corbyn still managed to sweep up in Islington North.

He won the seat with 63.4 percent of the vote and a thumping majority of 26,188.

His supporters believe he would be able to win as an independent and would likely be joined in the campaign by members who have drifted away from Labour under Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Sir Keir admitted to the BBC he hadn’t spoken to Mr Corbyn in more than a year.

Asked whether it was likely Mr Corbyn would not be able to stand as a Labour candidate, he replied: “I don’t know, but at the moment that may be the case.”

Allies of Mr Corbyn said he had been treated unfairly by the leadership, and called for Sir Keir to restore the party whip to him, allowing him to sit once again as a Labour MP.

But Sir Keir insisted the ball was in Mr Corbyn’s court, saying: “It’s up to him. He knows what he must do to move this forward. He’s not chosen to do so – that’s his choice.”

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