Ken Livingstone demands anti-Corbyn Labour MPs are suspended for disloyalty

Chuka Umunna and Wes Streeting are among those he thinks should be banned

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 22 March 2017 11:45
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Ken Livingstone wants Labour MPs suspended from the party
Ken Livingstone wants Labour MPs suspended from the party

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has demanded the suspension of top Labour MPs he claims are “consciously undermining” Jeremy Corbyn.

With tensions in the party already strained over Mr Corbyn’s leadership, ally Mr Livingstone named top backbenchers Chuka Umunna and Wes Streeting as those he said were damaging the party.

He also called for the reintroduction of automatic re-selection of MPs, reviving the prospect that figures from the centrist wing of the party could be removed by grassroots Corbyn supporters.

It follows a furious row between deputy leader Tom Watson and Mr Corbyn’s biggest union backer Len McCluskey over an alleged left-wing plot to cement control of the party.

Mr Livingstone, himself currently suspended from the party over allegedly anti-Semitic statements, said: “Those that have been most over the top I think should be suspended.

“I think the other thing that Jeremy should do is re-introduce automatic re-selection. It's really ridiculous that MPs in safe seats have a job for life. I'm particularly talking about Chuka Umunna, Wes Streeting - basically it's the same group of MPs who were screaming that I'd said Hitler was a Zionist and I was anti-Semitic.

“The moment that issue went on hold, they were then blaming Jeremy for Britain voting to leave (the EU). Just endless criticism. It's only about a dozen of them. The simple fact is they are consciously undermining Jeremy and damaging the Labour Party.”

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Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live days after Mr Corbyn issued a plea for party unity, Mr Livingstone said he expected to lose his disciplinary hearing next week on his suspension from the party, and indicated he will take Labour to court if that is the result.

He added: “I'm afraid we'll have to be off to a judicial review in the courts and in the court the issue will be what was actually said and what is the truth, and the Labour Party has got no chance of winning a judicial review.

“I'm basically retired. I'm not seeking office. I haven't asked Jeremy or didn't ask Ed Miliband to send me to the House of Lords or anything like that. I'm a house husband, but I'm not having my political career defined at the end that I'm anti-Semitic.”

Mr Streeting later said he would not be "losing any sleep" over Mr Livingstone's comments: adding “I will take absolutely no lectures on loyalty from Ken Livingstone.

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“The only question is why Ken hasn't already been expelled from the Labour Party, rather than being stuck in the purgatory of suspension.”

A spokesman for Mr Umunna said: “Suffice to say, this latest outburst from Mr Livingstone is everything to do with Chuka calling him out at the Home Affairs Select Committee for needlessly and recklessly causing offence to the Jewish community and very little to do with Jeremy Corbyn.”

Mr Livingstone's intervention comes amid bitter infighting over Labour's future, with deputy leader Tom Watson and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey engaged in a war of words over an alleged plot by the Corbyn-backing Momentum group to bolster the position of the hard-left by securing financial support from the union.

Mr McCluskey has accused Mr Watson of living in a "world of skulduggery, smears and secret plots", while the deputy leader has challenged the union boss to "state categorically" that Unite will never bankroll organisations seeking to take control of party structures.

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