Jeremy Corbyn takes aim at Keir Starmer over ‘utter disgrace’ of Labour treatment of Diane Abbott

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Labour of trying to silence Diane Abbott and hanging her “out to dry” as Britain’s first Black female MP faced horrific racist abuse.

Mr Corbyn said the treatment of the veteran politician, who has been at the centre of a storm over whether she would be allowed to stand for the party, had been an “utter disgrace”.

Ms Abbott is expected to be confirmed as a Labour candidate on Tuesday, despite accusing Sir Keir Starmer of lying about his respect for her in a swiftly deleted tweet.

Writing for The Independent, Mr Corbyn said: “The way that Diane Abbott has been treated is an utter disgrace – and I am disgusted by the blatant double-standards, hypocrisy and contempt for local democracy, in plain sight for all to see.

“Take a look at her social media and you will see the horrific levels of racist abuse she is forced to endure – and she has been hung out to dry.”

Diane Abbott served as shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn (PA)
Diane Abbott served as shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn (PA)

He added: “Make no mistake about the party’s intentions over the past few months: to try and silence a female Black voice who has the courage to stand up for a better world. It is thanks to the power of solidarity that, this time, they have failed”.

On Friday Sir Keir Starmer said the veteran MP was “free” to stand for the party after days of an extraordinary back-and-forth about whether she would be blocked.

The dramatic U-turn came after his deputy Angela Rayner broke with her party leader to say Ms Abbott should be allowed to fight the seat she has represented since 1987.

Her candidature is expected to be signed off by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

On Sunday Ms Abbott declared her intention to run and denied she was offered a seat in the Lords to stand down.

Hours later she accused Sir Keir of being dishonest in claiming that he has “more respect for Diane than she probably realises”, although the tweet was quickly deleted.

Angela Rayner forced a U-turn (Getty Images)
Angela Rayner forced a U-turn (Getty Images)

In an interview with The Observer, the Labour leader said: “Although I disagree with some of what she says, in terms of the battles she’s been through and the terrible insults she has had to rise above, I’ve actually got more respect for Diane than she probably realises...

“She was the first Black woman MP and has always had to fight for everything. She’s not like any other candidate.”

Sharing the article in a now-deleted post on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Abbott said: “More lies from Starmer.”

In his piece, Mr Corbyn says Ms Abbott has been “routinely patronised by (Labour) frontbenchers who are happy to call her a trailblazer but refuse to emulate the values she represents.”

Last week Sir Keir refused to say whether Ms Abbot would be defending her Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat on 4 July, as he faced claims of a "purge" of left-wing candidates.

Ms Abbott was given the Labour whip back last week, a move which cleared the way for her to stand for the party.

She had been suspended after she suggested that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience prejudice but not racism.