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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing pressure to keep his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn out of the parliamentary party after he was reinstated as a member three weeks after being suspended. Sir Keir has yet to decide whether to restore the whip but said the move to readmit Mr Corbyn by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) marked “another painful day for the Jewish community”. BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said: “It is not an exaggeration to say there is turmoil tonight in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
“Dame Margaret has relayed her concerns directly to Sir Keir Starmer and as I understand it he faces a fight on his hands to persuade her to remain as a Labour MP.”
She wrote on Twitter: “This is a broken outcome from a broken system. A factional, opaque and dysfunctional complaints process could never reach a fair conclusion. This is exactly why the EHRC instructed Labour to set up an independent process!”
The Islington North MP was suspended from Labour last month for his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report which found that the party had broken the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints.
Mr Corbyn claimed that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and “much of the media” – though he has since sought to clarify his comments.
But Mr Corbyn acknowledged ahead of a meeting of the NEC disputes committee on Tuesday that concerns around anti-Semitism in Labour were not “exaggerated”.
He revealed he had given a statement to the party in an attempt to “clear up any confusion” over his initial response and a broadcast interview given in the wake of the report.
BBC Presenter Kirsty Wark added: “This would appear to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn is saying, ‘I fully support was is in the EHRC report’.
“But that still leaves Keir Starmer the problem, it undermines his leadership.”
Mr Watt continued: “He is under intense pressure with a very unhappy parliamentary party.”
Dame Louise Ellman, the Jewish former Labour MP who quit the party over its handling of anti-Semitism last year, said Sir Keir should “refuse to restore the whip” to Mr Corbyn.
“That way they could show that they are determined – as they have said they are – to rid the party of this dreadful stain,” she told BBC Two’s Newsnight.
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The NEC’s move was condemned by Jewish groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which described it as a “retrograde step for the party in its relations with the Jewish community”.
Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, claimed Mr Corbyn’s suspension was “nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow” of the EHRC report.
However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said the former leader’s readmission was the “correct, fair and unifying decision”.
Jewish Voice for Labour welcomed the lifting of the suspension, urging the party to apologise to Mr Corbyn for the “high handed and public nature of his suspension and the consequent distress he has inevitably suffered”.
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