Corbyn reinstated into Labour without whip, will sit as independent MP

“Withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn is offering the Jewish community crumbs," wrote Campaign Against Antisemitism CEO Gideon Falter.

Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer attend a general election campaign meeting in Harlow, Britain November 5, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)
Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer attend a general election campaign meeting in Harlow, Britain November 5, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)
Jeremy Corbyn has had the whip removed by UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, just one day after the party’s National Executive Council voted to reinstate him into the party. This means that though he will not be allowed to sit as a Labour MP, he remains a member of the House of Commons.
This decision was seen as a compromise by Starmer, who had initially suspended Corbyn on October 29 and removed the whip from him following the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on antisemitism in the party, though the party’s National Executive Committee later reinstated him.
Starmer acknowledged that he “will be judged on my actions, not my words. The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community.” He further vowed to “fix what I have inherited” and is working for an independent disciplinary process for the party.
Removing the whip does not inherently mean removing party membership; Labour MPs have had their membership restored despite losing the whip. However, the two often go hand in hand, according to Corbyn’s former adviser James Schneider, The Guardian reported.
Several NGOs were harshly critical of the decision to readmit Corbyn into the party, and while some were more positive regarding the decision to withhold the whip, it was agreed that it reflected a perceived ineffectiveness in the party’s disciplinary process.
“We welcome Keir Starmer’s decision to withhold the whip from Jeremy Corbyn,” Marie van der Zyl, president of the UK’s largest Jewish community umbrella organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said in a statement.
“Despite the EHRC’s finding that the party had acted unlawfully under Mr. Corbyn’s watch, Jeremy Corbyn’s initial reaction to the report was dismissive, and he has been shameless and remorseless for what he has put the Jewish community through. Meanwhile, Labour’s disciplinary process is clearly still not fit for purpose. Keir Starmer has now taken the appropriate leadership decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. We continue to say that ‘zero tolerance’ must mean precisely that, whether for antisemites or their apologists.”
The response from the British NGO watchdog Campaign Against Antisemitism was more critical, stating: “We have been conned” by Starmer.
“Withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn is offering the Jewish community crumbs,” wrote Campaign Against Antisemitism CEO Gideon Falter.
“The EHRC ruled that Labour’s disciplinary processes were unfit, but Sir Keir allowed Mr. Corbyn to be tried under them. Not only that, but Mr. Corbyn should never have been suspended merely for his response to the EHRC’s damning report, but for the responsibility he bears for the Labour Party being found guilty of committing unlawful acts of antisemitism by the EHRC.
“Sir Keir needs to get a grip of his party and ensure that Mr. Corbyn is held to account for what he did to Britain’s Jews. Who is in charge of the Labour Party? Today, we have submitted a second complaint against Mr. Corbyn, calling for him to be held to account not by a sham panel but by an independent disciplinary process, as required by the EHRC. Sir Keir must suspend him pending that process, and, if our complaint is upheld, Mr. Corbyn must be expelled.”
The EHRC report had found evidence of failure under Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader to adequately train people investigating alleged antisemitism, political interference in the processing of complaints and harassment of individuals.
In response, Corbyn claimed that while he did not fully agree with the report’s findings, he trusts that “its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
He explained that “anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the Left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should have.”
He added, however, that “the scale of the problem [of antisemitism in the party] was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
His statement prompted Campaign Against Antisemitism to file a complaint, after which Starmer suspended Corbyn.
Donna Rachel Edmunds and Reuters contributed to this report.