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Jeremy Corbyn to lose Labour whip ‘for at least three months’

Labour outcast Jeremy Corbyn has been told his suspension could last up to three months, according to reports.

The party’s chief whip, Nick Brown, is said to have written to the former leader saying he will lose the Labour whip for at least three months.

According to the Guardian, Mr Brown said the suspension of the whip – which means Mr Corbyn will not be able to sit as a Labour MP – will continue while an investigation takes place into whether he broke parliamentary party rules.

His conduct during those months will reportedly be taken into account.

It comes as Mr Corbyn’s solicitors have reportedly written to the Labour Party calling for his suspension to be lifted, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, one of Mr Corbyn’s key allies has today warned Sir Keir Starmer that he could face a leadership challenge amid the uproar over the row. 

In a sign of ever-growing discontent among Labour MPs, Ian Lavery today warned that ‘there’s always the opportunity of a leadership challenge’.

The Wansbeck MP, an ally of Mr Corbyn, also hit out at the treatment of the former Labour leader – accusing Sir Keir of pursuing a ‘political and personal vendetta’.

Mr Corbyn was reinstated as a Labour member on Tuesday after he was suspended in October over comments he made after the publication of a report on anti-semitism in the party.

However Labour did not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn has to sit as an independent MP. 

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Mr Lavery, who served as party chairman during Mr Corbyn’s leadership, said: ‘It looks very much that this is a vengeful, divisive, provocative sort of move from Keir Starmer.

In a sign of ever-growing discontent among Labour MPs, Ian Lavery (pictured left) today warned that 'there's always the opportunity of a leadership challenge'

The Wansbeck MP, an ally of Mr Corbyn, also hit out at the treatment of the former Labour leader - accusing Sir Keir (pictured) of pursuing a 'political and personal vendetta'

In a sign of ever-growing discontent among Labour MPs, Ian Lavery (pictured left) today warned that ‘there’s always the opportunity of a leadership challenge’. The Wansbeck MP, an ally of Mr Corbyn, also hit out at the treatment of the former Labour leader – accusing Sir Keir (pictured right) of pursuing a ‘political and personal vendetta’

It comes after 32 Labour MPs and peers from the Socialist Campaign Group described the decision to deny Mr Corbyn (pictured) the whip as 'wrong and damaging' and called for it to be reversed

It comes after 32 Labour MPs and peers from the Socialist Campaign Group described the decision to deny Mr Corbyn (pictured) the whip as ‘wrong and damaging’ and called for it to be reversed

The 32 Labour MPs and peers who have signed a letter demanding Jeremy Corbyn have the whip reinstated

Diane Abbott MP

Tahir Ali MP

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

Zarah Sultana MP

Jon Trickett MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Mick Whitley MP

Nadia Whittome MP

Beth Winter MP

Paula Barker MP

Apsana Begum MP

Olivia Blake MP

Christine Blower

Pauline Bryan

Richard Burgon MP

Ian Byrne MP 

Ian Lavery MP

Clive Lewis MP

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

John McDonnell MP

Ian Mearns MP

Navendu Mishra MP

Grahame Morris MP

Kate Osamor MP

Kate Osborne MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP 

Dan Carden MP

Katy Clark

Mary Foy MP

John Hendy

Rachel Hopkins MP

Kim Johnson MP 

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‘Keir is the leader. Obviously he should be in pole position to be leader of the party at the next election.

‘But there’s a lot hinging on how Keir reacts not just to this but how Keir performs on behalf of the party.’

Mr Lavery, who said Sir Keir had caused ‘mayhem’ among Labour members since becoming leader, also called on him to deliver on his pledge to unify the party and push on with his 10-point plan – which includes backing public ownership.

Asked would should happen if the Labour leader could not deliver, he said: ‘There’s always the opportunity of a leadership challenge and the rules allow that to happen.’

However he added that he wished to see the party united and hoped to win the 2024 election. 

Sir Keir faced also threat to his leadership last night after members of the party’s ruling body signed a letter challenging him.

Hard-Left members of the newly elected National Executive Committee (NEC) said Sir Keir’s refusal to restore the whip to Mr Corbyn ‘flies in the face of natural justice’.

‘The decision of the leader… is an act of deliberate political interference in the handling of a complaint,’ said the letter to general secretary David Evans.

‘It defies the decision of the NEC panel, is a matter of double jeopardy that flies in the face of natural justice, it undermines the rule book and it is precisely the type of action found to be unlawful indirect discrimination by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report.’

A source told the Mail: ‘There was a lot of anger, and a determination to ask questions about the process and the NEC being undermined.’

The civil war came as it emerged Mr Corbyn has brought in lawyers in a bid to have his suspension lifted.

He has instructed solicitors, who will question whether the proper procedures were applied in the decision not to restore the whip.

Former Labour PM Gordon Brown insisted Mr Corbyn must make a ‘full apology’ before he can return to the party as an MP.

Mr Corbyn has refused to apologise for the remarks, which came after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) ruled that the party had broken equality law under his leadership.

Mr Brown, who led Labour between 2007 and 2010, told Sky News: ‘He’s got to make a full apology and it’s got to be clear there are no ifs, no buts, no qualifications about his opposition to anti-Semitism.’

It comes as a group of 32 Labour MPs and peers from the Socialist Campaign Group described the decision to deny Mr Corbyn the whip as ‘wrong and damaging’ and called for it to be reversed. 

Mr Lavery was one of those to sign the letter calling for Mr Corbyn to have the whip reinstated. 

Mr Corbyn was suspended as a Labour member last month after saying anti-Semitism in the party was overstated in the wake of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission report which found instances in the party.

Sir Keir said his predecessor had ‘undermined’ work to restore trust in Labour’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism. 

Mr Corbyn was reinstated on Tuesday following a disciplinary hearing. 

But earlier this week Sir Keir announced he would not restore the Labour whip, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit as an independent MP. 

Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, who is one of Mr Corbyn’s closest political allies, branded the decision ‘vengeful’.

He accused Sir Keir of ‘despoiling party democracy’, adding: ‘The continued persecution of Jeremy Corbyn – a politician who inspired millions –by a leadership capitulating to external pressure on party procedures risks destroying the unity and integrity of the party. I urge Keir Starmer in the strongest terms to pull back from the brink.’

There were reports on Tuesday night that Mr Corbyn was considering legal action.

His allies suggested he could allege ‘political interference’ in disciplinary rules, according to The Times. However, MPs said there were no grounds for a legal challenge.

Figures from the moderate wing of Labour – including veteran Jewish MP Dame Margaret Hodge – welcomed withholding the whip. 

On Wednesday, following pressure from Jewish groups and threats to resign from moderate MPs, Sir Keir issued a statement saying: ‘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. 

The head of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, who is one of Mr Corbyn's closest political allies, called the decision 'vengeful'

Last month, Mr Corbyn was suspended as a Labour member for saying anti-Semitism in the party was overstated. He was reinstated on Tuesday following a disciplinary hearing

The head of the Unite union, Len McCluskey (pictured left), who is one of Mr Corbyn’s closest political allies, called the decision ‘vengeful’

Sir Keir's decision means the former Labour leader will continue to sit as an independent MP

Sir Keir’s decision means the former Labour leader will continue to sit as an independent MP

‘In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.’

Ex-shadow chancellor Mr McDonnell said the action was ‘just plain wrong’ and would cause ‘more division and disunity in the party’ while Miss Abbott said removing the whip ‘raises serious questions of due process’.

Former shadow cabinet minister Richard Burgon added: ‘Jeremy should immediately have the whip restored. 

At a time of national crisis, division in the Labour Party serves nobody but the Tory Government.’

Meanwhile, Momentum, Mr Corbyn’s hard-Left grassroots support group, began a petition calling for his reinstatement. By yesterday afternoon it had 1,000 signatures. 

A union source also said Sir Keir’s decision was ‘panicky’ and prompted questions about his leadership ability. The source also claimed the Labour leader had shown ‘bad faith’ following behind-the-scenes discussions about trying to unify the party.

But Dame Margaret, who was said to have been on the brink of resigning after the NEC ruling, said: ‘As Corbyn has refused to accept the findings of the EHRC report, refused to apologise for his actions and refused to take any responsibility, withholding the whip is the right decision.’ 

Sir Keir’s move also won the support of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Mr Corbyn was suspended from Labour last month after claiming the scale of anti-Semitism had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’ by opponents inside and outside Labour, along with the media.

He has not apologised, but issued a statement ahead of the NEC meeting saying concerns about anti-Semitism were ‘neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’. The decision to readmit him was made by an NEC panel of five members who are independent of the Labour leadership – but they had no power to restore the whip.

That decision rested with Sir Keir and party chief whip Nick Brown.

Last night a YouGov poll showed 50 per cent of the public backed the Labour leader’s decision while just 21 per cent said he was wrong.

However, only 38 per cent of Labour voters supported Sir Keir compared to 32 per cent who did not, indicating serious divisions in the party. 

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