Jeremy Corbyn has refused to be drawn on his future as an MP ahead of a move to formally block him from standing for Labour at the next general election.
Sir Keir Starmer will propose a motion on Tuesday that will make clear the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), will not endorse his predecessor to fight for his Islington North seat.
In a statement earlier, Mr Corbyn said Sir Keir had “broken his commitment to respect the rights of Labour members and denigrated the democratic foundations of our party”.
He did not say if he would run as an independent MP but said of those who support him: “Our message is clear: we are not going anywhere. Neither is our determination to stand up for a better world.”
Approached by Sky News before a rally outside parliament protesting against the government’s illegal immigration bill, Mr Corbyn said he was not giving interviews and appeared agitated when asked if he would stand again at the next election.
Sir Keir ruled out the veteran MP standing for Labour last month, as he insisted the party has undergone a transformation since he took over.
The motion, which the NEC is expected to back, says the Islington North MP “will not be endorsed by the NEC as a candidate on behalf of the Labour Party at the next general election”.
A senior Labour source said: “Keir Starmer has made clear that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be a Labour candidate at the next general election. The Labour Party now is unrecognisable from the one that lost in 2019.
“Tuesday’s vote will confirm this and ensure we can focus on our five missions to build a better Britain.”
How Corbyn will respond to Starmer’s move?
Jeremy Corbyn’s future as a Labour MP has seemed in doubt since Sir Keir Starmer took over the party, but soon it could be unequivocally over.
The current leader will tell a meeting of Labour’s ruling body tomorrow that his predecessor, in whose shadow cabinet he once served, should be barred from standing for the party at the next general election.
Insiders say that although he may get some support when the NEC votes, it won’t be enough to change Mr Corbyn’s fate and will effectively mark the end of 40 years of service in the role.
The question now is, how will Mr Corbyn respond?
When asked by Sky News if he planned to fight the decision or stand as an independent, he chose not to answer, displaying his familiar frustration at being questioned by the media.
But privately allies have not dismissed the possibility that he could run against the party and a huge local support base means he would have a better chance than most MPs of getting elected.
Whatever happens though, those at the top of Labour will welcome the fight as they believe that they must convince voters that the party has moved on if they have any chance of winning them back and winning power.
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Sir Keir’s motion will argue Mr Corbyn standing for Labour at the next election would lead to the party’s chances of winning power being “significantly diminished”.
It is expected to add that “the Labour Party’s interests, and its political interests at the next general election, are not well served by Mr Corbyn running as a Labour Party candidate”.
The decision follows the announcement that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has decided to lift the party out of two years of special measures over its failings on antisemitism under Mr Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn was suspended from the parliamentary party in October 2020 over his reaction to a report by the EHRC which was critical of the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints under his leadership.
Immediately after its publication, Mr Corbyn claimed “the scale of the problem” of Labour antisemitism allegations was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
Mr Corbyn, who has represented Islington North for 40 years with a significant majority, has been sitting as an independent MP ever since his suspension, though he is still a member of the wider Labour Party.
In his statement, he said he had won the seat on 10 consecutive occasions since 1983 and he is “proud to represent a community that supports vulnerable people, joins workers on the picket line and fights for transformative change”.
He added: “This latest move represents a leadership increasingly unwilling to offer solutions that meet the scale of the crises facing us all. As the government plunges millions into poverty and demonises refugees, Keir Starmer has focused his opposition on those demanding a more progressive and humane alternative.
“I joined the Labour Party when I was 16 years old because, like millions of others, I believed in a redistribution of wealth and power.”
Supporters of Mr Corbyn have also hit out at the decision, with a Momentum spokesperson saying: “We utterly condemn this venal and duplicitous act from Keir Starmer, which further divides the Labour Party and insults the millions of people inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”
The group, set up in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s leadership victory, said it should be for Islington North Labour members to decide their candidate and called the rationale behind Sir Keir’s decision “pathetic” and “patently factional”.
Labour MP Apsana Begum called Mr Corbyn “one of the most popular leaders of the Labour Party”, adding: “We can never give in to those seeking to crush the hope and empowerment that he represents across our country.
“We should instead continue to be inspired by the heroism of all those who are standing up for their rights and the rights of others, in difficult situations.”