Tories taunt Keir Starmer over Diane Abbott fiasco

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has ruthlessly seized on the chaos in the Labour Party over the future of Diane Abbott which has sparked a revolt on the left of the party.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was accused on Radio 4’s Today Programme ths morning of “dithering” over the trail blazing MP and first black woman to be elected to Parliament in Britain.

She has vowed to stand again for her Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency and accused Labour bosses of trying to bar her from being a candidate after almost four decades as an MP.

But Sir Keir has denied she has been barred but been unable to say whether she will be allowed to be a candidate just weeks before a general election.

Ms Abbott told supporters she intended to remain as MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Getty Images)
Ms Abbott told supporters she intended to remain as MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Getty Images)

Speaking on the Today Programme this morning, Mr Hunt centred in on row being a issue about the Labour leader’s character ad whether he is fit to be prime minister.

He said: “If Keir Starmer can’t deal with Diane Abbott how on earth is he going to deal with Vladimir Putin?”

The row has exploded as leftwing Muslim hopeful Faiza Shaheen has sparked another row after she found out last night that the party’s National Executive Committee had barred her from running in Chingford and Woodford Green against former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith. It is a seat Labour narrowly missed out on in 2019 when ms Shaheen was the candidate and are expected to win on 4 July.

Sir Keir has made the Labour campaign a presidential style one about himself and how he is the right candidate to enter Downing Street and be prime minister.

But the row surrounding Ms Abbott and others amid claims that Sir Keir is trying to “purge the left” in Labour has left serious questions about his honesty and ability to make difficult decisions.

yesterday, Ms Abbott’s friend, immigration lawyer Jaqueline McKenzie questioned Sir Keir honesty after he had claimed that the investigation into alleged antisemitic remakrs by Ms Abbott was still ongoing on Friday last week. It emerged that the invesigation had in fact concluded in December.

This morning shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones became the latest high profile shadow cabinet member to struggle to explain what was happening regarding Ms Abbott and selections within the party.

Asked if he felt sorry for the Labour veteran, he said: “I suppose I do.”

But he added: “The unfortunate thing is that because a snap election has been called we have ended up in this accelerated process.”

Mr Jones insisted that “it is not appropriate” for him to give his personal opion on the row.

“I have all sorts of personal opinions but I am not here to give my personal opinion on this. All I can give you is process answers. The process is what the process is as I set out.”

Asked whether it was a filure of leadership by Keir Starmer, he responded: “No. This is what would normally happen in a snap election.”