DIANE Abbott has said she is “banned” from standing as a Labour candidate in the General Election.

The long-standing MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington had the Labour whip restored on Tuesday, months after an investigation into her comments on racism had concluded.

On Wednesday, she told the BBC: “Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate.”

The National: Labour’s investigation into Diane Abbott was completed in December 2023, according to Newsnight (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Labour withdrew the whip from Abbott (above) in April 2023, after she suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experienced prejudice, but not racism.

Despite her comments though, Labour leader Keir Starmer has since said she has not been barred from standing as a candidate for the party and that a decision is yet to be taken. 

"No decision has been taken to bar Diane Abbott," he said. 

"The process that we were going through ended with the restoration of the whip the other day, so she's a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and no decision has been taken barring her."

BBC Newsnight reported that Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had written to Abbott in December 2023 to say it had concluded an inquiry into her comments.

We also previously told how Starmer had been accused of telling a “brazen lie” after it emerged the internal Labour investigation into Abbott ended months ago – despite his claims it is still “ongoing”.

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Asked about the investigation finishing in December, the Labour leader told broadcasters on Tuesday: “The process overall is obviously a little longer than the fact-finding exercise.

“But in the end, this is a matter that will have to be resolved by the National Executive Committee and they’ll do that in due course.”

Starmer has previously said he could not get involved in the case.

The Times previously reported that Abbott, Britain’s first black woman MP, will be banned from standing as a Labour candidate, with suggestions the lifting of her suspension would allow her to leave politics “with dignity”.

Campaign group Momentum previously said restoring the whip to Abbott only to block her would be “outrageous”.

It said: “Following a farcical, factional process, she has had the whip restored. Her local party reselected her unanimously. That should be the end of the matter.

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“Anything less is a slap in the face to Diane, her constituents and the millions inspired by her example as Britain’s first black woman MP.”

Abbott was reported to have been issued with a “formal warning” by the NEC for “engaging in conduct that was, in the opinion of the NEC, prejudicial and grossly detrimental to the Labour Party”.

She was told to take part in an online e-learning module, which she completed in February, something that Labour’s chief whip allegedly acknowledged by email.

Abbott was an independent MP when Parliament was prorogued on Friday, May 24, ahead of the July 4 election.

The veteran MP was suspended after she responded to an Observer article headlined: “Racism in Britain is not a black and white issue. It’s far more complicated.”

She wrote in a letter to the title: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. But they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus.”

Abbott later said she wished to “wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate myself from them”.

Confusion over comments

According to the PA news agency, a Labour source has questioned Abbott’s claim to have been banned from standing for the party.

They said: “(I’m) not quite sure that’s right, the NEC is due to finalise candidate endorsements on Tuesday.

“I think this may be an attempt to bounce Loto (Leader of the Opposition’s Office) into some sort of deal.”

Elsewhere, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting (below) was asked “do you feel comfortable about what’s happened here with Diane Abbott?,” to which he replied: “No, not particularly.”

The National: Wes Streeting

He told Times Radio: “I know that Diane had the whip restored and her suspension lifted yesterday.

“This was following her suspension over remarks that she made, for which she later apologised.

“So I know at this stage, in terms of decisions about her candidature, as much as has been reported.”

Asked if the MP was owed an apology, Streeting said: “Diane rightly apologised for the comments that she made that led to her suspension, as to the process, I think those questions are better directed to people responsible for the process.”

He said it was “best to wait for all other facts to emerge about the decision making in this case, which I’ve not been involved in”.

SNP reaction

Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney said Diane Abbott’s treatment by the Labour Party has been “unfair”.

The SNP leader told Sky News: “It’s been a terrible shame the way in which Diane Abbott has been handled by the Labour Party and by Sir Keir Starmer.

“I remember Diane Abbott when I was in the House of Commons all those years ago, a really distinguished, significant parliamentarian. The first female black member of parliament, who made an outstanding contribution to the House of Commons.

“So I think she’s been really badly treated and I think it’s been really unfair.”

The SNP have said Starmer’s treatment of Diane Abbott has been “disgraceful” and that it “shows a total lack of judgement”.

MP Tommy Sheppard (below) said it shows why “it’s vital to vote SNP to ensure a strong, progressive, centre-left voice for Scotland at Westminster, hold Starmer’s government to account and put Scotland’s interests first”.

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"It's clear Starmer is trying to block anyone who disagrees with him and his lurch to the right, which has seen the Labour Party back Brexit, Tory austerity cuts, creeping NHS privatisation, and attempts to undermine devolution and block Scotland's right to choose our own future.

"It's essential that Scotland has a strong team of SNP MPs to stand up for Scotland's values and interests - and stand against Westminster austerity cuts.

"And it is all the more important now Starmer has decimated the left of the Labour Party, while making room for extreme Tories like Natalie Elphicke."