Confusion as Diane Abbott and party leaders make conflicting claims on MP’s future

Abbott supporters hold up a banner in a protest earlier this year. Photograph: Maya Sall

Hackney North MP Diane Abbott has claimed that Labour wants her “excluded from parliament” despite readmitting her into the party.

Conflicting reports emerged this week of Abbott striking a deal that had seen her reinstated by Labour in return for not standing as a candidate in July’s general election.

This was later rejected by Abbott, and also by party leader Sir Keir Starmer, who insisted no decision had been taken on her possible candidacy.

But Abbott told supporters at a rally outside Hackney Town Hall yesterday that the national party was insisting that she be banned from running from parliament again.

In a defiant mood, the MP said she intends to stay in the seat she has held for 37 years for “as long as possible”.

Abbott’s electoral future is still unclear, but her speech was the first hint that she could stand for parliament come what may – even if it means running as an independent.

Prior to this week, Abbott had been suspended for more than a year after suggesting in a newspaper column that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people had not faced the same lifelong racism as other minorities.

Her eventual reinstatement followed a report by BBC Newsnight that revealed Labour had actually concluded its investigation into her case in December 2023.

The party is said to have ordered her to take an antisemitism awareness course.

In the meantime, calls from Abbott’s supporters grew louder, with Hackney Black Labour Socialists particularly active in demanding her readmission to the party.

Several Hackney councillors, including three who recently resigned from Labour to form the Hackney Independent Social Group, added their voices to the calls.

Speaking to the Citizen this week, the three councillors – Fliss Premu, Penny Wrout and Claudia Turbot-Delof – said that Labour’s treatment of Abbott was one of the reasons behind their decision to quit the party.

Premru said: “We could not be complacent in a party which treats one of Hackney’s MPs in such a way.”

There was also heavy criticism of Starmer’s handling of the case from Lucie Scott, ex-BAME officer for Hackney North Labour.

Scott, who was at the forefront of the campaign for Abbott to be reinstated, previously told the Citizen: “From his [Keir Starmer’s] actions, it is clear he wants to […] tarnish her reputation and legacy. There’s a lot of anger and deep-seated pain – Diane being treated like that is an indication that the votes of Hackney’s Black community, and particularly the Caribbean community, don’t matter.”