UK’s Labour party says ex-leader Corbyn can’t run again

Keir Starmer said the party has changed “and we are not going back.”

By Associated Press

Former U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who led the left-of-center Labour Party while it was stained by allegations of antisemitism, will not be allowed to run for Labour in the next national election, his successor as party leader said Wednesday.

Keir Starmer said the party has changed “and we are not going back, and that is why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate at the next general election.”

Veteran left-wing lawmaker Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015 on a wave of grassroots enthusiasm and led the party to defeat in elections in 2017 and 2019.

A longtime supporter of the Palestinians and critic of Israel, he was suspended from Labour in 2020 after Britain’s equalities watchdog found party officials had committed acts of “harassment and discrimination” against Jews and said anti-Jewish prejudice had been allowed to spread within Labour.

Starmer said he was determined to root anti-Jewish prejudice from the party.

“Antisemitism is an evil and no political party that cultivates it deserves to hold power,” he said after the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has been monitoring Labour for several years, gave the party a clean bill of health.

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“Those who seek to blame others or downplay what happened in our party are, themselves, part of the problem and we will have zero patience or tolerance of that,” Starmer said.

Corbyn was suspended by the party in 2020 after he claimed opponents had exaggerated the scale of antisemitism in Labour for “political reasons.” He had represented Labour in Parliament since 1983 and now sits as an independent lawmaker.

Starmer, a lawyer and former head of the U.K. prosecution service, has dragged the party back toward the political center ground since taking over in 2020. He has dropped Corbyn’s opposition to Britain’s nuclear weapons, strongly backed sending weapons to Ukraine and stressed the party’s commitment to balancing the books.

Labour holds a strong opinion-poll lead over the governing Conservatives, who have been in office since 2010 and are mired in scandal. The next national election must be held by the end of 2024.

In a strong repudiation of his predecessor, Starmer said Wednesday that Labour had changed “irrevocably … from a party that looked inwards to a party that meets the public gaze. From a party of dogma to a party of patriotism. From a party of protest to a party of public service.”

He said “the Labour Party is unrecognizable from 2019 and it will never go back.”

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“If you don’t like that, if you don’t like the changes we have made, I say the door is open and you can leave.”