Diane Abbott says she will stand in Hackney 'by any means possible'

29 May 2024, 18:13 | Updated: 29 May 2024, 23:09

Diane Abbott says she plans to stand in her Hackney North seat in the upcoming general election "by any means possible".

The Labour MP had the whip restored to her on Tuesday after being investigated for almost a year over a letter she wrote in The Guardian, suggesting Jewish people do not face racism.

But since then, there has been confusion over whether she would be allowed to stand for the constituency she has represented for over 37 years under the party's banner - or be banned from standing at all.

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Speaking earlier on Wednesday following a report in The Times that Ms Abbott - the UK's first black woman MP - would be blocked from running in this election, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said "no decision has been taken to bar" her.

But during a rally in support of her in Hackney, east London, she refuted this, telling the crowd: "I was shocked to learn yesterday that I am going to be banned from running for the Labour Party.

"I have been selected by my local party members, many of whom are here today, but the national party is insisting that I be banned."

Ms Abbott accused the party of not communicating with her "personally" and for not giving her a reason for the ban, adding: "They just want me excluded from parliament.

"So I am so shocked and so alarmed about what is going on because it is as if you are not allowed to be a Labour MP unless you are prepared to repeat everything the leader says."

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The Labour MP said she felt those at the top of her party were "throwing" her campaigning on equality and poverty "in my face".

But she vowed to fight on, saying: "You have always stood with me, in good times and bad, and I will always stand with you. I am not going to allow myself to be intimated or frightened by forces beyond all of our control. I am going to be your MP as long as I am allowed to."

Ms Abbott added: "I remember when I first ran as the Labour MP all the way back in 1987. People thought I couldn't win. People thought you couldn't elect a black woman to parliament because it had never been done before.

"But local people went out, campaigned, knocked on doors and made me Britain's first black woman member of parliament."

She continued: "I have to keep faith with that loyalty. I have to keep faith with my principles. I have to keep faith with supporting and speaking up for equalities, poor people, for the community here in Hackney.

"So I promise you that as long as is possible I will be the member of parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington."

Sky News has approached the Labour Party for comment.