Angela Rayner says she wants to see Diane Abbott back as a Labour MP

Angela Rayner 270422 PA
Angela Rayner has said she would 'like to see' Diane Abbott back as a party MP Credit: PA

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has said she would “like to see” Diane Abbott back as a party MP and that she shares the “frustration at times of how long” investigations take.

The comments come after Ms Rayner’s boss, Sir Keir Starmer, said an 11-month investigation into alleged antisemitic remarks that Ms Abbott made was “not resolved” as he resisted calls to restore the Labour whip.

Former shadow home secretary Ms Abbott has sat as an independent MP since April after the Labour whip was withdrawn following a letter she sent to The Observer suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people are not subject to racism “all their lives”.

Britain’s longest-serving black MP was the target of comments by Tory donor Frank Hester, who allegedly said in 2019 that she made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

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The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington is still awaiting the outcome of an independent process looking into her remarks.

Ms Rayner, asked at a lunch with Westminster reporters if she wanted to see Ms Abbott back in the Parliamentary Labour Party, said: “Personally, I would like to see Diane back but the Labour Party has to follow its procedures.

“And for me, that is the most important thing, that we have made sure our party is fit to govern by making sure we have got complaint procedures that are robust and people can have confidence in.

“So it doesn’t matter what I think because I don’t make that decision because it is done through a panel, it has gone through experts, and I’m not involved in that process.”

Ms Rayner, who served in former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet alongside Ms Abbott, said she and party leader Sir Keir – following reforms made after the pair took the reins – “do not interfere” with the complaints process.

She added: “So yes, I share the frustration at times of how long these processes take but in (some) instances there are sensitive reasons for that.”

In an earlier interview on Thursday, Sir Keir resisted calls to welcome Ms Abbott back to the party fold.

Sir Keir said “we must support” Ms Abbott after the recent emergence of Mr Hester’s “racist and misogynistic” remarks.

However, he said that should not be conflated with the antisemitism accusations she faces over her letter in The Observer.

Ms Abbott also confirmed on Wednesday that Sir Keir came up to her after PMQs and said, "let me know if there's anything I can do", and that she responded by telling him "you could restore the whip".

Following a backlash to her letter, Ms Abbott apologised for any “anguish” caused and withdrew her comments.

Ms Abbott criticised the Labour party on Thursday after they sent out a fundraising email to members after the race row.

The email asked for donations "to close the huge fundraising gap between us and the Tories".

Ms Abbott told the Independent: "They want to use renewed abuse against me as a fundraiser. Hypocritical barely covers it."

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