15 July 2024

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(Bloomberg) — The veteran MP Diane Abbott has had the Labour Party whip restored after it was suspended over a racism controversy, though it is unclear whether she will be allowed to stand for the party at the upcoming general election.

Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament, has been sitting as an independent MP in the House of Commons since last year after writing a letter in the Observer newspaper that appeared to downplay the racism faced by Jewish people, for which she had the whip removed. The whip has now been restored, a person familiar with the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The treatment of Abbott is a difficult issue for Labour leader Keir Starmer given her popularity on the left of the party and with grassroots activists, yet she is also a close ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn from whom Starmer has tried to distance himself and his leadership.

The Times newspaper reported late Tuesday that Abbott will not be allowed to stand at the upcoming general election on July 4 despite her having the whip restored, citing unidentified Labour sources. Labour and Abbott did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Times report.

If Abbott is not allowed to stand, Starmer risks a blowback from her backers within the party, an internal rift that would be an unwelcome distraction from the election campaign. Labour currently enjoys a strong poll lead over the governing Tories, in part because Starmer has so far managed to maintain party unity.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 29 May 2024, 04:47 AM IST

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