Diane Abbott vows to stay as MP after Starmer backlash

In a message to Sir Keir amid fears of a purge of the Left of the party, Mr Corbyn said on Wednesday night that nothing would be achieved by “driving people out”.

Speaking at an event in north London launching his own campaign as an independent, he said: “The Labour Party ought to be a broad church and any movement that intends to represent a working-class community has to be a broad inclusive church.

“You don’t achieve anything by driving people out. You achieve things by bringing people in.”

Mr Corbyn added: “I’ve spent my life fighting for justice, for peace, for socialism, and my heart goes out to anybody else.

“Sometimes you’re going to have to fight back for those that attack us but above all, it’s not me they’re attacking, it’s not Diane they’re attacking, is the voices of people here.”

It came as Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, revealed he had been suspended and would not be standing at the general election following a “complaint”.

The Left-wing MP said on Wednesday night that there “isn’t enough time to defend” his case before July 4 and that the party had informed him he would not be an eligible candidate.

He said: “Yesterday, out of the blue, I received an ‘administrative suspension letter’.

“Someone (who remains anonymous to me) has made what I believe to be a vexatious and politically motivated complaint about my behaviour eight years ago. This is a false allegation and I believe it was designed to disrupt this election.”

He added: “I aim to co-operate with the investigations process to clear my name, but will now take this opportunity to contribute to public life in different ways under what I hope is a Labour government.”

The heads of six Labour-affiliated trade unions also wrote to Sir Keir on Wednesday saying they represented “the voices of hundreds of thousands of members”, urging him to confirm Ms  Abbott as a Labour candidate.

The letter was signed by the general secretaries of Unite, the train drivers’ union Aslef, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, the Union of Mineworkers, the Fire Brigade Union and the Communication Workers Union.

Abbott’s treatment could deter black voters

Sir Keir was also warned that his treatment of Ms Abbott could even deter members of the black community from voting for Labour.

Martin Forde KC, a former adviser to Labour on its handling of anti-Semitism, said the party’s handling of Ms Abbott’s case has been “utterly shambolic” and would have a “tremendous” impact on the Afro-Carribean vote.

Mr Forde said: “I get WhatsApp messages, predominantly from professional black and Asian women, who are utterly dismayed by the way Ms Abbott has been treated.”

Lord Woolley, the crossbench peer, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that there would be a “political cost” to pay for the “utter disrespect” with which Ms Abbott had been treated, namely that “black people will feel that they are being disrespected, working-class people will feel they are being disrespected”.

One Labour source said that Ms Abbott was “quite keen to retire” but “doesn’t want to be bundled out the door”.

They explained: “She wants it to be her choice and wants her achievements to be recognised. She wants to end her time in the Commons on a high note. Possibly, not her, but some of her supporters quite like the idea of derailing Labour’s campaign for a few days.”

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