Diane Abbott readmitted as Labour MP after race row probe

Diane Abbott
[Reuters]

Diane Abbott has been readmitted as a Labour MP, the BBC understands, but it is unclear whether she will stand for the party at the general election.

The former shadow home secretary was suspended in April 2023 after saying Jewish, Irish and Traveller people do not face racism "all their lives".

Her suspension meant she would not be able to stand for Labour on 4 July.

Party officials had tried to broker a deal by which she would get the whip back in return for standing down.

It is not clear if the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP has accepted that arrangement.

Labour has not said who its candidate will be in the Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat. Ms Abbott has been contacted for a comment.

The party is currently selecting remaining candidates before a meeting to endorse them next week, before nominations legally close on Friday.

Labour branches are no longer able to put forward their own candidates, after a deadline passed on Monday.

Labour launched an investigation in April last year after Ms Abbott wrote in the Observer that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people "undoubtedly experience prejudice" which she said is "similar to racism".

The letter added: "It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice.

"But they are not all their lives subject to racism."

Ms Abbott apologised and withdrew her remarks shortly after they were published.

BBC Newsnight revealed earlier that the party's investigation was completed in December 2023.

Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) issued her with a "formal warning" for "engaging in conduct that was in the opinion of the NEC, prejudicial and grossly detrimental to the Labour Party".

It said it expected her to undertake an "online, e-learning module" which a source said was a two-hour antisemitism awareness course.

Ms Abbott did the module in February, after which it is understood she received an email from Labour's chief whip acknowledging she had completed it.

'Slap in the face'

As recently as Friday, Sir Keir had been saying the investigation into her comments was not "resolved".

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden said it was "inconceivable" that the Labour leader "wasn't told the process had finished and a warning issued".

Questioned about the situation earlier, Sir Keir told reporters that "the process overall" was "obviously a little longer than the fact-finding exercise".

Ms Abbott, who became the first black woman to be elected to Parliament in 1987, was a close ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and served as his shadow home secretary.

Mr Corbyn, who was suspended as a Labour MP in 2020 for saying the scale of antisemitism within Labour's ranks had been "dramatically overstated" by his opponents, has confirmed he will stand against the party.

He will contest Islington North, which he has held since 1983, as an independent candidate. A complete list of candidates standing in the seat will be available on the BBC website after nominations close.

Momentum, the left-wing campaign group set up support Corbyn's leadership, said it would be "outrageous" for the party not to pick her as its candidate, having readmitted her as an MP.

"Anything less is a slap in the face to Diane, her constituents and the millions inspired by her example," it added.

Labour's full list of candidates is set to be endorsed at the NEC on Tuesday next week.

Parliament is due to be formally shut down on Thursday, triggering the official five-week election campaign ahead of polling day on Thursday 4 July.