• Monday, June 24, 2024

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Starmer distances himself from Angela Rayner over Diane Abbott’s contesting

While the Labour’s deputy leader backed the veteran MP to continue with her electoral career, Keir Starmer appeared to be more cautious in his take on the matter.

(L-R) Labour leader Keir Starmer (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images), MP Diane Abbott (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) and Angela Rayner (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

DISTANCING himself from Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner over her stance in the ongoing row around veteran party MP Diane Abbott, the party’s leader Keir Starmer has refused to express a view on whether he would like the left-wing parliamentarian from Hackney North and Stoke Newington to contest the July 4 general election.

According to a report by The Independent UK, the Labour leader broke with his deputy and did not give an opinion on the left-winger running as a candidate.

Rayner, however, backed Abbott when she said a day earlier that “as the deputy leader of the Labour Party”, she did not find any reason why Abbott couldn’t stand as a Labour MP in the times to come.

Abbott, who is the first Black woman to become a British MP, has been serving in the parliament since 1987.

Read: Faiza Shaheen alleges Labour has ‘problem with black and brown people’

Rayner also praised Abbott and called her an inspiration and a trailblazer. She also appeared to take a dig at her party’s leadership, saying that she is “not happy” about negative briefings to the media about the 70-year-old Abbott from senior sources in the Labour Party.

Speaking to ITV, she said, “I don’t think that is how we should conduct ourselves.”

Read: Row over poll prospects of Diane Abbott, UK’s 1st black woman MP

Starmer, when asked by BBC Radio Scotland over Abbott’s future as an MP, said it was on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to take a call.

“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,” he said.

When asked whether he would like her to be an election candidate, Starmer put it in the NEC’s court once again and said no decision was taken.

Asked if he would like her to be a candidate, Sir Keir added: “Ultimately, that will be a matter for the NEC but no decision has been taken.”

Starmer, however, praised the MP as a “trailblazer”.

While it had been suggested that Abbott was planning to withdraw, she declared at a rally in her support earlier this week that she intends to run again.

The unions have backed Abbott, with Trades Union Congress chief Matt Wrack alleging that double standards were being applied.

“Diane Abbott is a powerful, popular advocate for Labour. She and other candidates have been treated in an appalling manner. There are clearly double standards in how they have been treated as left-wingers and as women of colour when compared to more centrist MPs,” Wrack, who is also the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, was quoted as saying.

The deadline for the Labour Party to rubber stamp its general election candidates is June 4.

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