Jeremy Corbyn is expected to challenge Sir Keir Starmer’s vow to block him from standing as a Labour candidate at the next election as their row spilled over into public infighting.
Mr Corbyn called the move from his successor as Labour leader a “flagrant attack” on democracy as long-standing ally Dianne Abbott hit out at Sir Keir and other MPs online on Thursday.
Sir Keir ruled out the left-wing veteran standing again for Labour as he welcomed the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) decision to lift the party out of two years of special measures over its failings on antisemitism under Mr Corbyn.
Rather than going quietly, allies of Mr Corbyn say he is likely to seek the Labour nomination for his constituency of four decades, Islington North, from the local party.
The move would prompt Sir Keir to formally block his candidacy, with sources suggesting Mr Corbyn may fail the vetting process because of his past remarks on antisemitism.
Mr Corbyn would be left the option of running as an independent candidate in the seat where he retains significant local support.
“Flagrant attack on democratic rights”
“Keir Starmer’s statement about my future is a flagrant attack on the democratic rights of Islington North Labour Party members,” Mr Corbyn, who led Labour to two successive electoral defeats, said in a statement.
“It is up to them – not party leaders – to decide who their candidate should be. Any attempt to block my candidacy is a denial of due process, and should be opposed by anybody who believes in the value of democracy.”
Diane Abbott, who was Mr Corbyn’s shadow home secretary, signalled he would not want to stand as an independent before hitting out at fellow Labour MPs on Twitter.
“The day Starmer won leadership of the Labour Party he described Jeremy Corbyn as a friend and a colleague. Now he wants to throw him out of the party,” she tweeted.
Ms Abbott also took aim at Dame Margaret Hodge, rejecting the suggestion that Sir Keir was “fighting privately” to address the issues under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
“I was in Jeremy’s shadow cabinet alongside Starmer. It is nonsense to say he was fighting privately,” she said.
Mr Corbyn is currently sitting in the Commons as an independent after he was suspended from the parliamentary party over his response to the EHRC’s damning report in 2020 that found Labour broke equalities law.
He claimed the scale of the problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media”.
Labour frontbencher Yvette Cooper, during an appearance on Sky News, was pressed on whether Mr Corbyn should be permitted to remain in the party.
“Membership of the party, that’s just a matter for normal processes so it’s a different set of standards. It’s not a matter for me,” she said.
Backing Sir Keir’s decision, she said: “There are obviously different standards for people who stand to be Members of Parliament, and rightly so.
“We should have proper standards in place for someone who’s going to become an MP and that’s what the issue has been.”
Related: Jeremy Corbyn sends stinging statement to the Labour Party