Gordon Brown: Corbyn must offer full apology and it was 'right' he had whip withheld

A deep crack has been widening in the Labour Party since Mr Corbyn had the whip removed. Credit: PA

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has said Keir Starmer was "right" to end Jeremy Corbyn's time as a Labour MP and says the former leader must offer a "full apology" for remarks he made in response to a report into anti-Semitism in the party under his leadership.

Mr Brown told ITV News: "I think Keir Starmer's taken the right decision that until Jeremy Corbyn makes a full apology - and it's got to be a full apology, no ifs, no buts, no conditional clauses - then what Keir Starmer's decided is the right thing to do."

The Labour grandee suggested there could be a way back into the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) for Mr Corbyn, but "there's got to be an apology... Jeremy himself has got to say he got it wrong".

Len McCluskey , the general secretary of Unite the Union, said the move to exclude Mr Corbyn from the PLP amounts to a "witch-hunt", following a long line of Corbynites who've voiced concern over Sir Keir's decision.

He said: "I'm obviously saddened and somewhat astonished that we find out ourselves once again in this situation. if this is Keir's idea of unity then he has a different idea than I do "It looks to me very much like a witch-hunt and persecution of a decent man."

A deep crack has been widening in the Labour Party since Mr Corbyn had the whip removed as he was suspended following his reaction to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found the party, under his leadership, was "responsible for unlawful acts" of anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment.

Mr Corbyn said the scale of the problem in Labour was "dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party".

He later put out a statement attempting to clarify his remarks.

He said: "To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither 'exaggerated' nor 'overstated'.

Three weeks after his suspension, he was reinstated as a party member but his successor as leader opted to not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn - for now at least - will sit in the House of Commons as an independent MP.

Sir Keir said he will keep the situation "under review", but his decision to effectively end Mr Corbyn's 37 year stretch as a Labour MP has caused anger among many of his allies.

Several members of Mr Corbyn's former shadow cabinet have criticised the move, including former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon and former shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

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."