Keir Starmer reportedly offers Diane Abbott seat in Lords he wanted to abolish

Keir Starmer reportedly offers Diane Abbott seat in Lords he wanted to abolish

Diane Abbott ignores media outside London home as she accuses Keir Starmer of 'culling left-wingers'


The ongoing fallout over whether or not veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott can and will once again stand for her party in the upcoming general election shows no sign of slowing down, as it’s now been reported Sir Keir Starmer has offered her a seat in the House of Lords he once said he wanted to abolish.

To recap, the politician - who has represented Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987 (at which point she became the first Black woman elected to parliament) – was suspended back in April last year after she wrote a letter published in The Observer which suggested Jewish people are not subjected to the same racism as other minorities.

Abbott had said Jewish, Irish and traveller communities have experienced “prejudice”, but that this was “similar to racism”, with the two words “often used as if they are interchangeable”.

She later apologised for “any anguish caused” and withdrew the remarks.

“Racism takes many forms, and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others. Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them,” she wrote.

The incident was subject to an investigation by Labour’s National Executive Committee and while BBC Newsnight reported Abbott had been contacted in December to say the inquiry had concluded, leader Sir Keir Starmer was still saying this week that a decision on the situation would come “in due course”.

Abbott – who was shadow home secretary during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as Labour leader – had the whip restored on Tuesday, but a day later told the BBC she had been blocked from standing as a candidate in July’s election.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner then waded into the row on Thursday by telling ITV News: “I don't see any reason why Diane Abbott can't stand as a Labour MP going forward. She has been cleared as part of an investigation.

"I am not involved in that process - and for me, I just say that if she wants to stand, I don't see any reason why she can't stand."

Starmer then distanced himself from Rayner’s remarks by saying in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland: “Diane Abbott has had the whip returned to her, no decision has been taken to bar her from standing and the NEC will come to a decision in due course.”

On Friday, he finally gave a more definitive answer on Abbott’s future by saying she is “free” to stand for Labour in the general election.

The whole furore has seen Starmer’s “changed Labour Party” accused of a “purge” of left-wing candidates, with Lloyd Russell-Moyle suspended and prevented from standing for the party in Brighton Kemptown, and Faiza Shaheen denied an endorsement in Chingford and Woodford Green.

And just when some in Labour might have hoped the situation over Abbott’s standing had been resolved, The Sunday Times has reported MPs have been offered peerages in exchange for standing down at the election – with Abbott being one of them.

Labour have denied the reports, though it comes close to two years after Starmer pledged to abolish the House of Lords if he becomes prime minister in order to “restore trust in politics”.

Social media users have since been quick to point out the apparent contradiction:

In October it was reported Labour had dropped plans to abolish the Lords in its first term of government if elected.

Starmer promised reform of the parliamentary chamber during his leadership campaign in his ’10 pledges’, which were quietly removed from his website in December.

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