Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly refused to say if he will stand as an independent MP at the next general election. The former Labour leader dodged a series of questions tonight during a grilling from ITV’s Robert Peston.
The journalist asked Mr Corbyn – who currently sits as an independent MP – what he will do if Sir Keir Starmer does not allow him to stand for Labour at the next election.
Mr Peston said: “Keir Starmer has made it very clear he is not going to get you back into the parliamentary Labour Party. Are you now reconciled with standing as an independent at the next election?”
Mr Corbyn replied: “I was elected as the Labour MP for Islington North in the last general election as I have been in the previous nine general election. So 10 times I’ve been elected.
“I think the people of Islington North and the Islington North Labour Party members should be able to make that choice.”
Mr Peston pressed: “They’re not going to be allowed to make that decision, Keir Starmer’s made that decision so I’m just asking, given that this is actually said it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to stand as a Labour candidate, are you planning to run as an independent?”
Mr Corbyn branded it a “hypothetical question”, adding: “I’m a member of the Labour Party. I joined the Labour Party before England men’s team won the World Cup. I’ve spent my life in the Labour Party. I’ve done every job there is in the Labour Party.
“And I think that the members of Islington North Labour Party deserve that.
“Keir Starmer also promised that he wouldn’t interfere in selections, that he would energise the democracy of the Labour Party, if that’s to be the case this is a strange way of going about it.”
Mr Peston asked again: “But the rules are also clear that you have to be a member of the parliamentary party to stand, you’re not, you’re not going to be allowed back. At what point will you therefore make the decision about whether you’re run as an independent?”
Mr Corbyn said: “How do you know I’m not going to be allowed back? Have you got an inside track to the whip’s office?”
Mr Peston replied: “Starmer has said it publicly.”
The ex-Labour leader said: “I just make the point I was elected as a Labour MP, I’m proud to represent my constituents as a Labour MP, I’m working with the local constituency party all the time, representing local cases and all the other issues that we do, and representing our movement all the time.”
Mr Peston asked a fourth time: “The evidence is there’s strong support for you in the constituency which is why I’m asking you whether in the case that you don’t want to contemplate that they won’t let you back will you run as an independent?”
Refusing to say yes or no, Mr Corbyn said: “Hypothetical question. We’ll deal with that when it happens.”
Mr Corbyn had the whip removed in 2020 over his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party.
He has represented Islington North since 1983 and served as Labour leader from 2015 to 2020.