Diane Abbott suffering from 'serious, long-term condition', Labour shadow cabinet member Barry Gardiner says

Labour's international trade spokesman urges people to 'back off' following reports of long-term illness

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Diane Abbott has been diagnosed with a “serious, long-term condition”, shadow minister Barry Gardiner has said.

The Labour Party announced on Wednesday morning that Ms Abbott was being replaced as Labour's shadow home secretary during a “period of her ill health”.

Reports have since emerged that Ms Abbott, who is being replaced by former shadow policing minister Lyn Brown, stood down because she is suffering from a long-term illness.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Mr Gardiner said: “I have been told that Diane has been diagnosed with a serious, long-term condition.

“I hope people will simply say ‘OK, fair dos, if that’s the reason she’s been under par, we should back off’.”

Ms Abbott has suffered from a series of gaffes and difficult interviews in recent weeks, with the Conservatives increasingly focusing their campaigning on her performance.

On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn refused to say whether Ms Abbott would be given the job of Home Secretary if Labour won on Thursday. He said only that she had done “a good job” but was “not well today”.

On Monday Ms Abbott struggled to recall the contents of a report on counter-terror policing during an appearance on Sky News. 

It came after she had failed to recall the cost of Labour's policy to hire more police officers during an awkward interview with LBC radio earlier in the campaign.

Since then, Ms Abbott has pulled out of an interview on the BBC's Woman's Hour programme and a London hustings debate hosted by the Evening Standard newspaper.

In a tweet shortly after her replacement was announced, Ms Abbott wrote: "Touched by all the messages of support. Still standing! Will rejoin the fray soon."

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