A LABOUR MSP has sparked a row after calling for former leader Jeremy Corbyn to be readmitted to the party.

Corbyn was suspended from Labour in the wake of his response to a report from a human rights watchdog that found the party broke equality laws in relation to its handling of antisemitism complaints. The MP said accusations of antisemitism within the party had been “dramatically overstated” by opponents.

The National:

Although Corbyn’s suspension was later lifted, his successor, Sir Keir Starmer (above), ordered that the party whip be withheld from him, effectively suspending him as a Labour MP.

Mercedes Villalba, who represents the North East of Scotland at Holyrood, tweeted on Sunday night that Corbyn “is a Labour Party member and should have the whip restored to him immediately” – hours before Scottish Labour chief Anas Sarwar was due to present a speech and press conference on his party’s plans for the year.

Asked about Villalba’s (below) call for the whip to be restored, Sarwar was adamant that Labour should be focused on the future, as he made clear: “I am not interested in past leaders.”

Speaking about the situation with Corbyn, he said: “The reality is that that is an internal disciplinary process and we have got to reflect on the impact that the antisemitism row – it was more than a row – had on communities across the country.

“I have been spending a lot of time speaking to the Jewish community here in Scotland and I have heard directly about the pain and the anguish that that whole episode caused and I am working to rebuild our relationship with all our communities across Scotland, including the Jewish community.”

The National:

Asked directly if Corbyn should apologise to Jewish communities, Sarwar said: “Yes. I think that is the least anyone who has caused pain or hurt should do in that situation.”

Within Scottish Labour, there was upset over Villalba’s call. Duncan Hothersall, a pro-Union campaigner and Labour member, hit back: “Jeremy Corbyn refused to accept the findings of an independent investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party under his leadership. He has doubled down on this denial multiple times since. Far from having the whip restored he should be permanently expelled from the party.”

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Ben Procter, another party member, said he had once again found himself “embarrassed” by Villalba over the comment.

“Until he apologised for the harm caused (at the very least) then the whip should not be restored,” the campaigner argued.

Villalba was also attacked by Scottish Conservatives over her position.

Sharon Dowey, Tory MSP for the South Scotland region, said: “Only a couple of months ago this Scottish Labour MSP described Jeremy Corbyn as the ‘nicest man in politics’. Labour should be distancing themselves from Corbyn's failure to tackle antisemitism in their party, not welcoming him back with open arms.”

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The official Scottish Conservatives account added: “Jeremy Corbyn is a disgrace and Scottish Labour shouldn't be cosying up to him.”

The row comes amid reports that Corbyn could be looking to launch his Peace and Justice Project as an official political party.

He already intends to stand in his Islington North seat as an independent again – where he received nearly 65% of the vote share in 2019 – but according to the Telegraph, his inner circle is pushing for him to run under the Peace and Justice Project banner.

The organisation was formed to “bring people together for social and economic justice, peace and human rights” after Corbyn stood down as Labour leader in 2020.