Jeremy Corbyn has been brutally humiliated in the House of Commons by Labour’s own Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting in the latest bitter sign tensions still persist in the party. The incident happened after today’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), which saw Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer go head-to-head for the second successive week. Mr Corbyn, who currently sits as an independent MP, tried to raise a point of order but was quickly rebuked by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
When Mr Corbyn continued to push, Sir Lindsay leaned forward in the direction of the Labour front bench to ask what he was saying, with Mr Streeting heard replying: “He’s gone senile.”
Mr Streeting has since apologised, responding to a tweet from Owen Jones, who retweeted a video in question and writing: “This is gross @wesstreeting.”
The Labour MP for Ilford North replied: “In jest, but I accept in poor taste. I’ve dropped Jeremy a note directly to apologise for any offence caused.”
But the incident shows bitter tensions still exist in the party between the frontbench and supporters of Mr Corbyn – two-and-a-half years after he left as Labour leader.
The comment from Mr Streeting had infuriated many figures on the left of the party with Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, lashing out.
She tweeted: “Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting in parliament yelling that @jeremycorbyn has gone senile. Horrible.”
Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member Jess Barnard said: “No one in our party should be using ageist and derogatory mental health slurs, least of all the Shadow Health Secretary.”
Trade unionist Howard Beckett tweeted: “Wes Streeting today insulted not just Jeremy Corbyn but the 900k who suffer from dementia & all who have lost a loved one to dementia.
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“His language was intended to bully. Starmer called for Williamson to go for being a “pathetic bully”. The same should be true for Streeting.”
SNP MP John Nicholson also said it was “wrong” for Mr Streeting to use the word senile as an “insult”, adding: “As someone whose mum had dementia, I’m keen that mental health terms are excised from the list of words used as insults.
Sir Keir Starmer replaced Mr Corbyn as Labour leader in April 2020 following a disastrous showing for the party in the last general election in December 2019 and allegation that anti-Semitism was rife in its ranks during his tenure.
Since then, the new leadership team has attempted to distance itself from the MP but many of his supporters on the left of the party, across members and backbenchers, still offer him their support and believe he has been treated unfairly.
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Later in 2020, Mr Corbyn was suspended by Labour after triggering fury when claiming the anti-Semitism claims had been “exaggerated”.
Sir Keir hit back and said comments of this type were part of the problem and while the former Labour leader was allowed back as a member, he was ousted from the parliamentary party.
It remains unclear whether Mr Corbyn will be allowed to return to the party to run as a Labour candidate at the next election.
He could also be forced to stand as an independent or even completely step down from politics.