Ex-Labour leader Corbyn to run as independent candidate in UK election

Veteran left-winger says will defend London seat after he was suspended from party for refusing to accept findings of watchdog over antisemitism under his leadership

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a protest rally in central London on March 11, 2023. (Susannah Ireland/AFP)
Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a protest rally in central London on March 11, 2023. (Susannah Ireland/AFP)

LONDON — Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced on Friday he would run in the United Kingdom general election as an independent candidate, after the party suspended him following a drawn-out antisemitism scandal.

Corbyn, 74, who has represented the London constituency of Islington North for more than 40 years, said he would contest the seat to be “an independent voice for equality, democracy and peace.”

The veteran left-winger, who led the main opposition Labour Party into the last election in 2019, but stepped down as leader after overseeing its worst results in decades, has been sitting as an independent MP since 2020.

The party suspended him after he refused to fully accept the findings of a rights watchdog’s probe into claims that antisemitism became rampant within Labour’s ranks under his leadership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission ruled the party broke equality law when Corbyn was in charge.

He said antisemitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) joins protesters with placards and flags taking part in the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London on November 11, 2023. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)

In a video posted on X, Corbyn said his constituents had been “disempowered.”

“I believe in democracy. I want our political parties to be democratic but members of Islington North Labour have been denied the right to choose their own candidate,” he added.

“So we have to stand up and say we’re not taking this anymore… That’s why I am standing to be an independent candidate for the people of Islington North.”

Islington North is a traditionally safe Labour seat and Corbyn’s move is unlikely to impact the overall election results.

But the decision is an unwelcome distraction for Labour, which is bidding to retake power for the first time since 2010.

It risks splitting the Labour vote in the constituency and allowing a rival party’s candidate to capture it.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who says he has rid the party of antisemitism after it was dogged by damaging allegations during Corbyn’s tenure, said the decision to stand “was a matter for Jeremy.”

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer delivers a speech in Glasgow on May 24, 2024, to launch Scottish Labour’s campaign ahead of a general election on July 4. (Andy Buchanan/AFP)

He insisted the party would field “an excellent candidate” in the seat.

Labour has shortlisted two people — a London Assembly member and an Islington councilor — to run in the constituency, which Corbyn won in 2019 with a majority of 26,188.

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