Keir Starmer rejects plea from Labour left to reinstate Rebecca Long-Bailey
Keir Starmer refused the request from the group
Keir Starmer has rejected a plea from senior figures on the left-wing of the Labour party to reinstate Rebecca Long-Bailey to his shadow Cabinet.
The Labour leader has dismissed claims from members of the the Socialist Campaign Group that he was wrong to sack her for sharing an article which included an "antisemitic conspiracy theory".
MPs from the group, including Jeremy Corbyn, had called for the meeting after Ms Long-Bailey was removed as shadow education secretary for approvingly retweeting an interview with the actress Maxine Peaker which included the discredited claim that US police had been taught to kneel on the neck of suspects by "Israel's secret service".
In a statement released by the group, they said the talks held on Friday with Sir Keir were a "business-like exchange of views" - but that there was still "significant disagreement" over the issue.
"On the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet, it was clear that significant disagreement remains on this point," they said.
"The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs made it clear that Rebecca Long-Bailey should not have been sacked and should be reinstated.
"The imminent annexation of the West Bank by Israel’s government was discussed and the need for the Labour Party, MPs, party members and supporters to speak out against Israel’s illegal annexation and ongoing human right abuses by the government of Israel was raised."
They added: "This was a business-like exchange of views which took place in a mutually respectful manner."
Sir Keir is expected to appoint a new shadow education secretary in the comming days.
The meeting came after Ms Long-Bailey admitted she was "incredibly upset" about the incident but refused to be "critical" about how she had been treated.
Speaking to the Mirror, the Salford MP added that while she could see why the claim had caused "extreme concern", she did not believe that drawing attention to police practices was racist or anti-semitic provided they were "worded in the right way".
"I completely agree with the need for us to intensively rebuild our relationship with the Jewish community and the wider electorate. I can understand the difficulties of Keir’s position," she added.
"Whilst we don’t agree on everything, we agree on the need for a Labour government and I’ll still do everything I possibly can to make sure that happens.
"The only way that we’ll win a general election is by being unified as a party that’s why it’s so important for me to make the choice not to be critical about the way I might have been treated."