Good morning. Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn released a statement effectively retracting a claim he made about the extent of antisemitism in the Labour party being “overstated”, and this led to his suspension from the party being lifted. Perhaps some people in Labour HQ or in the leadership thought this would heal the rift caused when Corbyn’s initial “overstated” comment led to his suspension on the day the Equality and Human Rights Commission published its report last month.
But it hasn’t worked out like that. As Lisa O’Carroll reports, the decision has provoked a backlash from Jewish groups and Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn. Figures like Margaret Hodge say Corbyn should not be a Labour MP. And Sir Keir Starmer now faces another decision which, depending on what he does, will either infuriate one faction in the party or another.
On the Today programme this morning James Schneider, director of strategic communications for Corbyn when Corbyn was leader, claimed that having his suspension lifted meant Corbyn was automatically restored as a member of the parliamentary Labour party. Schneider said:
It’s automatic. Jeremy Corbyn is a Labour MP with the whip restored. It would be a decision for the leadership to now withdraw the whip if that’s what they want to do …
[Corbyn] had the whip withdrawn automatically because he was suspended from party membership. It is now reinstated automatically because the party membership is back. This process has been completed. The membership is reinstated. He is a Labour member and he is a Labour MP.
But Labour officials say this morning that Schneider was wrong, and that readmission to the party does not automatically mean readmission to the PLP. It is expected that Starmer will want to decide this within the next three hours, before PMQs.
Here is the agenda for the day.
11am: Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director of Public Health England and medical adviser to NHS test and trace, holds a coronavirus data briefing at No 10.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs – with Johnson becoming the first PM to take part in this exchange virtually, because he is still self-isolating.
12.15pm: Dr Andrew Goodall, the chief executive of NHS Wales, holds a Welsh government coronavirus briefing.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.
3pm: Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, gives evidence on human rights to the joint committee on human rights.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like the Starmer/Corbyn story, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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