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MPs tell Boris Johnson ‘freedom is not just for Christmas’ as they call for long-term strategy

When will the cycle of lockdowns end? – Shutterstock

A group of senior MPs have told Boris Johnson that “freedom cannot just be for Christmas” as they urged the Prime Minister to develop a longer-term strategy to avoid living “under a cycle of lockdowns”. 

This morning Government scientist Dr Susan Hopkins confirmed that Sage modelling had suggested that “for every day restrictions are released released two days with tighter restrictions”. 

She added: “Hopefully the Government will make a decision that will allow us to have some mixing…. But once we are past the Christmas period, if they had been released and there has been some socialising we all have to be very careful.”

Mark Harper, former chief whip and chair of the Covid Recovery Group, said that while the briefings “always remind us Covid is a deadly disease… the country needs a different and enduring strategy for living with the virus that lasts beyond Christmas.” 

He added: “We cannot keep living under a cycle of lockdowns and restrictions that expect people to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season, only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihoods.”

Deputy chair, Steve Baker MP, said: “Freedom cannot just be for Christmas.  Lockdowns and restrictions cause immense economic, social and non-Covid health damage and we’ve got to start talking about those so that we know the restrictions we’re being asked to live under are not causing more harm than good to our citizens.  We’ve also got to develop a much better strategy for living with this virus that doesn’t require us being locked up and freed by the government.”   

Follow the latest updates below.

01:00 PM

Have your say: Was Keir Starmer right to block Jeremy Corbyn’s return?

Sir Keir Starmer has made his position clear: Jeremy Corbyn will not be returning to the Labour party, at least not until he offers a more fulsome retraction and apology for his response to the EHRC report last month. 

The current Labour leader said his predecessor’s response “undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle antisemitism”. 

But will blocking him from the party turn grumblings into open warfare – or is this the only way he can deal with the problem effectively? Have your say in the poll below. 

12:44 PM

Keir Starmer blocks Jeremy Corbyn from having Labour whip restored

Sir Keir Starmer has gone head-to-head with Boris Johnson in the first ever virtual PMQs after the Labour leader confirmed Jeremy Corbyn would not have the whip restored. 

Corbyn allies had hoped the former leader had been automatically reinstated after receiving a formal warning from the NEC.

His communications director James Schneider told Radio 4’s Today programme: “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.”

However Sir Keir has issued a statement saying: “Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle antisemitism.

“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.” 

12:40 PM

PMQs: Boris Johnson rejects suggestion that Covid-positive people get six months exemption

Sir Christopher Chope, Conservative MP for Christchurch, says more than one people have recovered from Covid.

He notes that means they cannot be reinfected for at least six months and asks if Boris Johnson will follow Sweden and exempt them from the rules. 

This would be to “follow the science and also common sense”, he adds. 

Mr Johnson says it is “a very well meant suggestion” but there is evidence on both sides, so everyone who gets “pinged” should follow the rules and self-isolate. 

12:37 PM

Margaret Ferrier makes first PMQs appearance since losing whip

Margaret Ferrier, the MP who was ejected from the SNP for travelling across the country after testing positive for coronavirus, asks about an application to the EU settlement scheme on behalf of one of her constituents. 

She asked her question remotely – and on audio only. 

Boris Johnson avoids making any comment about her, saying he understands this case is being considered urgently and a decision will be made shortly.

12:35 PM

PMQs: Tory MP calls for supermarkets to pay business rates

Mark Pawsey, the Conservative MP for Rugby, raises the plight of smaller retailers forced to shut while supermarkets can sell non-essential items. 

He says it would be “a welcome gesture” if multiples paid the business rates that they have been exempted from as result of the holiday. 

Boris Johnson says the Government is trying to help all retailers get through this tough period “and allow all retailers to reopen”. 

12:29 PM

PMQs: Sir Graham Brady calls for airport testing to be launched before lockdown ends

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, is called to speak part-way through Boris Johnson’s long-winded reply. 

He asks if the aviation taskforce can report in time to replace the current two-week quarantine with a “testing regime” in time for the lift of lockdown. 

Boris Johnson says work is being carried out “very fast” but “whether it will come in time for me, I don’t know”. 

He adds the Government “certainly wants to help the airlines”. 

12:26 PM

PMQs: Boris Johnson’s attack on devolution ‘a slip of the Tory mask’, claims Ian Blackford

Ian Blackford – in the Chamber for the first PMQs in some time – defends the SNP from Boris Johnson’s claims that devolution was “a disaster”. 

The Prime Minister says his “policies of wanting to break up the union are a disaster, and I wish he and his party would focus on the real priorities  of the people of Scotland – education health, tackling crime and housing, the issues that matter to all our people.”

He says when he was London Mayor “that is what we focused on”. 

Mr Blackford says the PM “wasn’t listening… no apology and no regrets. His attack on the devolution was not a slip of the tongue, it was a slip of the Tory mask. 

“We know these were not flippant remarks… the fact is Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster.”

Mr Johnson emphasises the UK-wide approach to dealing with the pandemic, saying “the UK has shown its value and will continue to show its value”. 

12:22 PM

PMQS: Sir Keir Starmer attacks Government over damning report into public spending

Sir Keir Starmer then turns to the NAO report this morning, which found that more than half of all contracts were handed out without competitive tender and those with political contacts were 10-times more likely to receive them. 

He asks for a cast-iron guarantee that from now on all contracts will be agreed through proper processes and in a transparent way. 

Boris Johnson says “of course” they are published and uses it as another opportunity to thank those who have helped the pandemic effort. 

He then claims Rachel Reeves had written to the Government suggesting they use some frankly unsuitable suppliers. 

“It is absolutely absurd that Captain Hindsight is trying to score political points for moving too fast,” he adds. “I am proud of what we have achieved.”

12:19 PM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer attacks Boris Johnson over £21m payment for ‘go-between’

Sir Keir Starmer then turns to reports that a “go-between” was paid £21m to “deliver lucrative contacts from the Department of Health”. 

He notes that amount of money could be “found” for free school meals, and asks if this was an acceptable use of taxpayer’s money. 

Boris Johnson says he was told to “remove the blockages” to get PPE at the start of the pandemic. “We shifted heaven and earth to get 32 billion items of PPE into this country. I am very proud of what has been achieved”. 

He claims “Captain Hindsight” is now attacking them for “going too fast”. 

A protester – possibly Steve Bray, the Stop Brexit man – can be heard on his audio. 

12:15 PM

PMQs: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer clash over self-isolation compliance

Sir Keir Starmer points out that the lockdown measures were only passed with Labour votes. 

“He should be thanking us for our support, not criticising.”

He notes that only one in eight workers qualify for the self-isolation scheme, despite many people not being able to afford it. 

The Labour leader says the reason only 11 per cent of people are self-isolating when asked is because of a “significant cut to their income”. 

Boris Johnson says it is “extraordinary that he is coming out in favour of Test & Trace” but says the figures he quotes are “way too low”. 

He urges people to self-isolate, noting it breaks the chain of transmission. 

12:13 PM

PMQs: Boris Johnson says Labour backs Test and Trace for ‘keeping me away’

Sir Keir Starmer then turns to the Government’s support for people who are self-isolating, asking if Boris Johnson could stay at home so easily if he had to do so on the current package. 

Mr Johnson says it is “good to hear” him say something positive about Test and Trace, even if it is “to keep me away from answering his questions in person”. 

He defends the “exceptional” package that has been created by the Government, listing the various forms of support on offer, saying the £500 is in addition to everything else. 

“I know it’s tough for people to self-isolate, but I’m glad that after so long of him attacking Test and Trace he is now coming around to support it.”

12:10 PM

PMQs: SNP is ‘not engaging in basic work’ to improve people’s lives, claims Boris Johnson

Sir Keir Starmer then asks if he will consider “further devolution of powers and resources across the UK”. 

Boris Johnson says “Tony Blair himself had conceded he did not foresee the rise of a separatist party or the collapse of Scottish Labour”. 

He notes there are “great advantages” to devolution and points to the work on transport and housing he carried out in his time as London Mayor, but claims the SNP is “not engaging in that basic work”. 

“Instead they are campaigning to break up the UK,” and asks Sir Keir if he will repudiate this stance.

“Of course I don’t want the break up of the UK but if anything is fuelling the break up, it is the Prime Minister,” the Labour leader responds. 

12:07 PM

PMQs: Boris Johnson ‘single biggest threat to UK’, claims Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer opens with a question about devolution, asking why Boris Johnson had told his MPs it was “a disaster”. 

Boris Johnson says what is a disaster is the way SNP has used devolution “not to improve the lives of their constituents…. but constantly to campaign for the break up of our country”.

He claims devolution was an “otherwise sound policy” but had been turned into a disaster by efforts to break up the UK. He is then chastised by the Speaker for calling the SNP the “nationalist” party. 

Sir Keir responds saying “the single biggest threat to the UK is the Prime Minister every time he opens his mouth”. 

He claims the quote is “very clear” and not as Mr Johnson has suggested, noting he is “seriously undermining the fabric of the union”. 

12:04 PM

Boris Johnson blasts Sadiq Khan over TfL funding (again)

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, asks about a dangerous road in his constituency and whether Boris Johnson will “step in where Sadiq Khan has failed”. 

Mr Johnson says the Mayor “blew TfL’s funding” which he claims were left in a good state by himself – something which has been contested by the current administration. 

He says he will review the situation and update him in due course. 

12:02 PM

Boris Johnson begins virtual PMQs

Boris Johnson has started PMQs on a slightly fuzzy video conference line, emphasising that he will be having “virtual” meetings throughout the rest of the day. 

The first question comes from Labour over reports No 10 is cutting the aid budget. 

The Prime Minister doesn’t address the question directly, but stresses the “UK is leading the world in tackling one of the greatest problems this planet faces” – climate change. 

12:00 PM

Sir Keir Starmer’s authority undermined by ‘disgraceful’ NEC decision, says campaign group

Sir Keir Starmer’s move to prevent Jeremy Corbyn regaining the whip is a “welcome gesture” but his authority has been undermined by the “disgraceful events” that saw the former leader’s suspension from the party ended, Labour Against Anti-Semitism has said

Spokeswoman Fiona Sharpe said: “The decision to continue to withhold the whip from Jeremy Corbyn is a welcome gesture. However, it must not be used to obscure the disgraceful events of the last 24 hours or the calamity of institutional anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

“Having announced that his leadership signalled new management of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer’s authority has been completely undermined by the lifting of Mr Corbyn’s suspension yesterday.

“Less than three weeks on from the publication of the damning EHRC report into anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party, the Jewish community has again been ignored and failed.

“Until an independent complaints process is introduced, and all historical cases of anti-Semitism from 2015 onwards are reviewed in full, the Labour Party will not be a safe space for British Jews.” 

11:59 AM

Labour must ‘move on’ from Jeremy Corbyn suspension, says frontbencher

A Labour frontbencher has said it is time to “move on” after Sir Keir Starmer refused to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn today. 

Lucy Powell, shadow business and consumer affairs minister, told Sky News the anti-Semitism row had been “a serious stain on us as a party” and the EHRC report “probably the lowest point we have ever had as a party”.

The finding that Labour had been institutionally discriminatory was “pretty appalling”, she added. 

She said: “Keir has made a clear decision, a difficult decision no doubt, but I hope we can begin to move on from this issue now. 

“It is up to Jeremy to reflect on how he responded to that very serious report.”

11:54 AM

Keir Starmer’s decision on Jeremy Corbyn divides the left

Sir Keir Starmer’s decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn has been welcomed by some – but attacked by others. 

11:31 AM

Jon Lansman slams ‘political interference’ in Jeremy Corbyn’s case

Switching back to today’s big story about Jeremy Corbyn’s continued suspension from the Labour party –  Momentum founder Jon Lansman claims it has “driven a coach and horses” through the disciplinary process. 

The one-time ally of Mr Corbyn said: “The decision not to restore the whip to Corbyn just announced has driven a coach and horses through the party’s disciplinary process, making it subservient to the parliamentary party and embedding “political interference”.

“The whip was only removed because he had been suspended!”

He added: “The EHRC condemned exactly this kind of political interference in the process as indirectly discriminatory, potentially unlawful, lacking in transparency & consistency, & undermining of public confidence in the process. That cannot go on!”

11:25 AM

Tier 3 restrictions were causing a drop in cases before second lockdown, says Government scientist

Areas under the tier three restrictions had already started to see a drop in new cases before the second lockdown was brought in, England’s deputy chief scientific adviser has said. 

Dame Angela McClean told the Downing Street press conference the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the community had risen steeply in September and October but had slowed down.

“What you see is even before national restrictions were brought in, in the parts of the country where the amount of infections was already very high the progress of the epidemic had already flattened off, that’s the North West and Yorkshire and Humber.

“Those also happen to include the parts of the country that were under tier 3 restrictions so that’s good news that some parts of the country have already flattened off.”

Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins said that increased excess mortality rates have been witnessed again in recent weeks.

“This is clearly concerning and this is clearly one of the reasons why the national restrictions had to come into play,” she added. 

11:18 AM

Two days of lockdown for every day of Christmas socialising, says Sage scientist

Turning back to the press conference, Dr Susan Hill and Angela McClean have been asked about reports that they have been modelling the impact of a five-day lift on socialising for Christmas. 

The NHS Test and Trace medical director said modelling had suggested that “for every day restrictions are released released two days with tighter restrictions”. 

She added: “Hopefully the Government will make a decision that will allow us to have some mixing…. But once we are past the Christmas period, if they had been released and there has been some socialising we all have to be very careful.”

Angela McClean, deputy chief scientific adviser, said she “like everyone” was hoping for a lift in measures over Christmas.

“We did send some advice in over the weekend, but we genuinely don’t know what decisions are being made,” she added. 

11:14 AM

Jeremy Corbyn ‘apologised over and over again’ for anti-Semitism scandal

A former adviser to Jeremy Corbyn has insisted his former boos had “apologised over and over again” for his mishandling of anti-Semitism within the party, claiming this is “a red herring”. 

James Schneider, former director of strategic communications for the leader of the opposition, said that within Mr Corbyn’s response to the EHRC report last month he “didn’t say anything that was either factually or morally wrong”. 

“If he didn’t accept the clear failings he wouldn’t have done so much to improve the process,” Mr Schneider added. 

Mr Corbyn had “apologised over and over again”, he told Radio 4’s Today programme, describing the question of whether or not the MP had said sorry for the findings in the EHRC report as a “red herring”. 

Former Corbyn adviser James Schneider - Christopher Pledger
Former Corbyn adviser James Schneider – Christopher Pledger

11:04 AM

R-number has fallen since September, says deputy chief scientific adviser

Dr Susan Hopkins opens the weekly press conference by noting the high compliance with social distancing (81 per cent), mask wearing (98 per cent) and people working from home (38 per cent).

Angela McClean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, then says it is “particularly good to note”  a big fall in the number of trips people are making for retail or general transit since the second lockdown has come in. 

She says “the famous R-number” has fallen since September, but is still above one. 

It is now thought to be 1-1.2. 

10:54 AM

Philip Johnston: The Union is doomed if Boris fails to secure a Brexit trade agreement

The next few weeks, maybe even the next few days, will be critical to the future of the 313-year-old union between England and Scotland. We should know soon whether a post-Brexit trade deal is to be struck with the EU. If it is, the Union can and should be saved. If it isn’t, it could well be doomed.

It is extraordinary to think that, while this historic drama is playing out, the Prime Minister is in quarantine. He has had a Covid test and has been shown to be negative, so why is he locked up for a fortnight? It is mad. Not that being shut away in his Downing Street flat has stopped him causing fresh ructions north of the Border.

In a remote conversation with Conservative Party MPs from northern England, Mr Johnson volunteered the opinion that “devolution has been a disaster for Scotland”.

It has certainly been a disaster for the integrity of the United Kingdom, but at this critical juncture it might have been better had he kept this observation to himself.

10:37 AM

Households to be banned from mixing after lockdown in bid to save Christmas

Households across the country are set to be banned from mixing when lockdown ends under Government plans to rescue Christmas, The Telegraph understands.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly promised that the national lockdown will be replaced with a “regional tiered approach” when it ends on December 2.

But Government sources say default restrictions across the country are likely to include a ban on mixing with other households until close to Christmas.

Read the full story here.

10:16 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: Corbyn’s EHRC response ‘should shame us all’

Sir Keir Starmer has declined to comment on what his next steps will be regarding Jeremy Corbyn, after the former Labour leader was effectively let off with an official warning by an NEC panel yesterday. 

The current Labour leader declined to comment when asked by journalists this morning, instead pointing to his Twitter thread last night. 

Here is what he said. 

10:01 AM

Chris Grayling to press ministers over aviation industry support

Ministers will face renewed pressure to introduce Covid-19 testing for passengers flying on key routes to and from the UK.

The former transport secretary Chris Grayling will lead a 90-minute Westminster Hall debate this afternoon on the future of the aviation industry, calling on the Government to “unlock” the sector by introducing arrival and departure testing at airports.

Mr Grayling has previously called on ministers to work with the industry to carry out test trials as an alternative to the current quarantining system. Currently international travellers arriving in the UK are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Speaking in a Commons debate in September, Mr Grayling told MPs: “At least let us try testing on some key routes, track very carefully what happens to the passengers on those routes, see if there really is a problem and establish whether we can make airport testing work to allow the airline industry to get going, not just locally within Europe but some of the international routes that are so important to them.”

Chris Grayling expected to press the Government over the aviation - Geoff Pugh
Chris Grayling expected to press the Government over the aviation – Geoff Pugh

09:45 AM

Keir Starmer urged to refuse the whip to Jeremy Corbyn by Board of Deputies president

Sir Keir Starmer has been urged not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn by a senior figure from the Jewish community. 

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the decision to reinstate Mr Corbyn yesterday was an “absolute sham” and shows the Labour Party “have not learned anything at all”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the former leader’s case has “clearly been rushed through and judged by a politicised panel stuffed with his own supporters”.

She added: “I hope this morning that Keir Starmer will have reflected on what has happened yesterday and make it clear that he is refusing to restore the whip.”

09:25 AM

What’s on the agenda today

It’s another busy day in Westminster – here is what we are looking at today:

11am: The now-regular data briefings from Downing Street. Today’s will be hosted by Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director of Public Health England and medical adviser to NHS test and trace, who might give us more detail on her suggesting that tiers will be “strengthened” after lockdown.

Also at 11am: A Westminster Hall debate on textile worker exploitation in Leicester, led by local MP Liz Kendall

12pm: Boris Johnson to take the first-ever virtual PMQs. While he is under pressure over the damning NAO report, and what he is doing to save Christmas, Sir Keir Starmer is likely to have a tougher time over the Jeremy Corbyn-induced civil war. 

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon’s regular coronavirus briefing – the first since announcing part of Scotland will be under restrictions until December 11. 

12.15pm: Dr Andrew Goodall, the chief executive of NHS Wales, holds a Welsh government coronavirus briefing.

From 12:40pm: Two urgent questions – one about the Northern Ireland protocol and one about the Towns Fund.

2:30pm: Back in Westminster Hall for a debate on the aviation industry, led by former transport secretary Chris Grayling

3pm: Justice Secretary Robert Buckland gives evidence on human rights to the joint committee on human rights.

09:13 AM

Dido Harding ‘feeling well’ as she reveals she is self-isolating

Baroness Dido Harding has revealed she is self-isolating, having been ‘pinged’ by NHS Test & Trace. 

The operation’s boss tweeted that she been alerted to the fact she had come into contact with someone who had tested positive overnight. 

 “Nothing like personal experience of your own products,” she said, adding: “Feeling well.”

Her husband, the MP John Penrose, has been self-isolating since November 9. 

09:03 AM

Boris Johnson to take first virtual PMQs

Today will mark a first for Prime Minister’s Questions, as Boris Johnson answers remotely while he continues to self-isolate.

The Prime Minister has been confined to Downing Street after being in contact with Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Johnson will take part from self-isolation rather than having his deputy Dominic Raab stand-in for him at the despatch box.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There is an agreement that Prime Minister’s Questions will go ahead and the Prime Minister will take part remotely.”

Boris Johnson appeared remotely before the Liaison Committee in May - Reuters
Boris Johnson appeared remotely before the Liaison Committee in May – Reuters

08:52 AM

Alok Sharma defends Government over damning report on public spending

Alok Sharma has defended the Government after a damning report by the public spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office found a lack of transparency around some of the £18 billion of coronavirus contracts that had been awarded to the end of July. It also found that firms with political connections were directed to a “high-priority” channel for UK government contracts. 

The Business Secretary told BBC Breakfast there was “huge pressure” at the time to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers after the National Audit Office exposed transparency failings.

“We had to do an enormous amount of work very fast to secure PPE and that’s what we did, and I’m not going to apologise for the fact that quite rightly we made that effort,” he added.

Mr Sharma also insisted that “checks were done” in the case of a Spanish businessman acting as a go-between who was reportedly given £21 million of UK taxpayers’ cash.

Alok Sharma insisted the Government had been working in a pressured environment - Reuters
Alok Sharma insisted the Government had been working in a pressured environment – Reuters

08:38 AM

Margaret Hodge on resignation watch after she blasts ‘broken system’ over Jeremy Corbyn ruling

Sir Keir Starmer has a tight window to decide what to do about Jeremy Corbyn, if he is to avoid handing Boris Johnson a gift in PMQs. 

But it is how it plays out in his own party that will probably be the bigger conern, amid reports that former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish, could quit the party.

She said on Tuesday evening that she could not “comprehend” why it was acceptable for Mr Corbyn to “be a Labour MP if he thinks anti-Semitism is exaggerated and a political attack”.

Dame Louise Ellman, the Jewish former Labour MP who quit the party over its handling of anti-Semitism last year, said Sir Keir should “refuse to restore the whip” to Mr Corbyn.

“That way they could show that they are determined – as they have said they are – to rid the party of this dreadful stain,” she told BBC Two’s Newsnight.

08:25 AM

Tory MP compares Keir Starmer to ‘Cowardly Lion’ over Jeremy Corbyn

A Conservative MP has compared Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz for his failure to stand firm on Jeremy Corbyn. 

Robert Halfon, the Jewish MP for Harlow, shared a video of the character running away from the great and mysterious magician in fear.

“Really Disappointing,” he added. 

08:22 AM

Alok Sharma: Too early to confirm five-day lift on restrictions over Christmas

Alok Sharma has said it is “too early” to know whether social distancing restrictions could be eased around Christmas.

This morning the Sun reported that a ban on indoor socialising could be lifted for five days, paving the way for larger gatherings around the festive period. 

Asked about this, the Business Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I want to have my mum and dad around, I want to have members of my family around that Christmas table.

“I just think it’s too early to be reaching any conclusions on that. What none of us knows right now is what the infection rate is going to be in different parts of the country.”

However, it is not just about the family. Several MPs are concerned about the impact restrictions will have on busineses in the most critical part of the year. 

08:05 AM

Starmer under fire as Corbyn readmitted to Labour

Sir Keir Starmer faced a mutiny from his own MPs on Tuesday night after Labour was accused of “adding insult to injury” by readmitting Jeremy Corbyn just three weeks after he was suspended from the party in a row over anti-Semitism.

Former leader Mr Corbyn had refused to apologise for playing down the scale of the problem in the party, and his readmittance sparked a major new row over anti-Semitism which threatens to undermine Sir Keir’s pledge to clean up Labour.

Sir Keir is now under intense pressure to withhold the whip from Mr Corbyn after the party lifted his suspension and gave him a “slap on the wrist”, and at least one MP has threatened to resign if the whip is restored. On Tuesday night, Labour sources confirmed that he had not yet made a decision on whether to reinstate the whip. 

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