Jeremy Corbyn confirms he will stand against Labour in Islington

Jeremy Corbyn confirms he will stand against Labour in Islington

Standing against the party automatically triggers expulsion. The former leader had remained a Labour member, despite being suspended from the parliamentary party.

Local Labour councillor Praful Nargund has been announced as the party’s candidate for the north London seat.

Party officials had drawn up a shortlist of two – Mr Nagrund, seen as the leadership’s preferred choice, and Sem Moema, a London Assembly member.

Local members were due to choose between them, with the result to be announced on 1 June. But that vote has now been abandoned.

Asked about his predecessor’s announcement, Sir Keir Starmer told BBC Breakfast: “That’s a matter for Jeremy… we will have an excellent candidate.”

Mr Corbyn did not declare his intention to stand as an independent until the selection process in Islington North got under way.

He wanted to make it clear that he was being forced out and not willingly leaving the party he led until four years ago.

Writing in the Islington Tribune, Mr Corbyn said: “Local Labour Party members in Islington North have been prevented from choosing their own candidate, which has disempowered everyone in the community.

“I am appalled at the way local people have been treated. We have to stand up and defend our rights. That is why I am standing to be an independent candidate for the people of Islington North.”

His campaign is likely to provide a focus for those on the left disillusioned with Sir Keir’s leadership.

Mr Corbyn has endorsed policies rejected by his successor.

He said he would defend “a genuine alternative to the corrupt years of this Tory government”, which would include rent controls, public ownership of energy and water, the abolition of the two-child benefits cap, a green new deal, and an ethical foreign policy based on peace and human rights.

“We will not solve these crises unless we build a new kind of politics,” he added.

His supporters are hopeful he can continue to represent the seat he has held for 40 years. He had a majority of 26,188 in the 2019 general election.

But his decision to stand as an independent might, in one respect, be helpful to Sir Keir. He has argued that he has changed his party and, as if to symbolise this, his predecessor has now been formally expelled.

Left-wing pressure group Momentum hit out at Sir Keir for blocking Mr Corbyn from standing again as a Labour candidate.

Kate Dove, chairwoman of the grassroots organisation, said: “This is an almighty mess for Labour and Keir Starmer alone bears responsibility.

“Jeremy Corbyn has loyally served the people of Islington North as their Labour MP for over 40 years.

“Starmer has treated the people of Islington with contempt, setting the stage for a divisive and distracting election campaign.”

She urged the Labour leader “not to repeat this damaging debacle in Hackney [North and Stoke Newington] with Diane Abbott. Britain’s first black woman MP, who Keir Starmer rightly called a ‘trailblazer’, deserves to run as the Labour candidate, as local members voted.”

The party has been investigating comments Ms Abbott made in April 2023, when she said Irish and Jewish people and Travellers experienced prejudice, but not racism.

She withdrew her remarks and apologised “for any anguish caused”, but was suspended from the PLP.

Sir Keir told Breakfast that the process involving Ms Abbott would be “resolved pretty soon” by Labour’s national executive, because a final list of candidates had to be submitted within a matter of days [4 June].

Once a general election is announced, Labour can allow a panel from its national executive to select candidates in constituencies where there are vacancies.

It appears this has happened in Islington North.

Former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who is standing down as a Labour MP at the election and is a long-time critic of Mr Corbyn, told the BBC he was “putting himself above the party that gave him all the opportunities that he’s had down the years”.

Mike Katz, national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said the party “became an unsafe space for Jews under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership” because “he refused to acknowledge the scale of antisemitism in Labour, even when the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party guilty of breaking the law”.

“The Labour Party we see today is unrecognisable from what it had become under Corbyn, thanks to the leadership of Keir Starmer,” he added.

A complete list of candidates standing in Islington North will be available on the BBC website after nominations close.

So far, apart from Mr Corbyn and Labour, the Liberal Democrats have selected Vikas Aggarwal, the Greens have chosen Sheridan Kates, and Reform UK have chosen Martyn Nelson.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c288xxvrdz7o

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