Jeremy Corbyn will not sit as a Labour MP in the House of Commons – despite being reinstated as a party member, Sir Keir Starmer said.
The ex-leader was readmitted on Tuesday, just 19 days after he was suspended over his controversial response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
But, despite being let off with a warning by a five-person disciplinary board, Starmer said Corbyn’s comments that antisemitism had been exaggerated for “political reasons” had “undermined our work in restoring trust” with the Jewish community.
Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl hailed Starmer for taking “the appropriate leadership decision” by denying Corbyn the whip, but John McDonnell – the former shadow chancellor and close ally of the former leader – said it was “just plain wrong” and would cause “more division and disunity in the party”.
Corbyn paved the way for a rapprochement with the party by releasing a statement on Tuesday claiming he had not intended to diminish the extent of Labour antisemitism, and that he supported Starmer’s intention to accept in full the EHRC recommendations.
In the aftermath of the bombshell report’s publication, he had lashed out at “opponents inside and outside the Party” and the media, who he claims “dramatically overstated” the issue for “political reasons”.
In a statement, Starmer said: “I have made it my mission to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party. I know that I will judged on my actions, not my words.
“The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.”
He added: “Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.
“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.”
The move won support from Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who said Corbyn had “refused to himself accept the findings of the EHRC report, refused to apologise for his actions and refused to take away any responsibility”.
But former shadow justice minister Richard Burgon, a prominent member of the Socialist Campaign Group of pro-Corbyn MPs, said that the Islington North MP “should immediately have the whip restored”.
“At a time of national crisis, division in the Labour Party serves nobody but the Tory government,” he said.
Jon Lansman, who founded Corbyn-backing grassroots group Momentum, said Starmer’s decision had “driven a coach and horses through the party’s disciplinary process”, adding that he had made it “subservient to the parliamentary party”.
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, a close Corbyn ally, said: “I fail to see how today’s actions bring closure or unity”.