Rebecca Long-Bailey: 'Sir Keir Starmer was wrong to withhold the Labour whip from Jeremy Corbyn'

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Sir Keir Starmer's decision to not reinstate the whip for Jeremy Corbyn has "continued infighting and division" within the party, Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey has said.

The leader of the opposition said on Wednesday he would not allow Mr Corbyn back into the Parliamentary Labour Party because he "set back" the party's "work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party's ability to tackle anti-Semitism".

Ms Long-Bailey, who was sacked as shadow education secretary by Sir Keir in June after sharing an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, said that the Labour leader should not have taken the decision to withhold the whip after the National Executive Committee (NEC) restored Mr Corbyn's Labour membership.

Speaking on ITV's Peston programme, she said: "Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the party and went through a disciplinary process, his suspension was overturned but our party leader has not been inclined to restore the whip.

"The problem here is there certainly isn't any clarity or transparency.

"With removing the whip there is no process, no right to a hearing and could be indefinite or for a long period of time.

"This has continued infighting and division in our party when we should be united, speaking with one voice and working together to defeat this government."

However, she said that the situation could have been avoided if Sir Keir and his predecessor had discussed the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into anti Semitism in the Labour party which said the party was "responsible for unlawful acts" of anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment, and "spoke with a united voice".

She added: "It's a really sad situation that we find ourselves in and not one that Keir or Jeremy expected to find themselves in.

"We should have been united as one party and speak with one voice, acknowledging the pain and hurt caused to Jewish people."

Also on the programme was Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who warned that there will only be a "modest decline" in Covid-19 cases despite the national lockdown.

Professor John Edmunds warned that it may be a 'disappointing' Christmas. Credit: ITV Peston

He said that it could signal a "disappointing" Christmas suggesting that it would be "prudent to minimise" socialising at the festive time of year.

But he added: "The government is under huge pressure not to keep restrictions in place after December 2.

"But we have to ask what we want to achieve - do we want a low increase or moderate increase? Do we want to minimise the impact on the NHS? If we decide what we want to achieve, that will tell us what to do next."

He said the potential for vaccinations to be rolled out by the end of the year was "fabulous news" but added that restrictions should only be lifted fully after the population had received the jabs adding that it "could take a long time".