The whip has again been removed from Labour MP Chris Williamson. This comes amid a backlash which followed the party readmitting him after a formal warning on Wednesday.
The Canary understands that the whip was automatically restored on Wednesday, but has now been removed again as a result of a fresh investigation being launched, pending a decision by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
‘The party leader cannot overturn decisions made by NEC panels’
A Labour Party source said: “Jennie Formby has written to the NEC to inform them that the issues raised in Keith Vaz’s email will be on the agenda for the NEC disputes committee’s next meeting.
“Under the party’s rule book, the general secretary and the leader of the party cannot overturn decisions made by NEC panels, which are advised by independent barristers. Only the NEC has the power to do so.
“Subsequently, the whip is not restored as the decision is still pending.”
The Derby North MP was originally suspended in February after video footage emerged of him criticising what he considered to be the party’s disproportionate response in the face of criticism regarding its handling of complaints of alleged antisemitism.
Cases of anti-Jewish prejudice in Labour reportedly relate to 0.1% of the party’s 540,000-strong membership. And since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader, the number of Labour voters agreeing with antisemitic statements has reportedly fallen. Academics at the Media Reform Coalition, meanwhile, previously concluded that corporate media coverage of Labour and antisemitism was a “disinformation paradigm”.
Parliamentary group seeks to push Williamson out
More than 60 MPs have signed a motion calling for a vote in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on withdrawing the whip from Williamson for 12 months for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.
The MPs’ motion calls for the case to be referred to the parliamentary committee – the influential backbench body which meets weekly with Jeremy Corbyn – at its next meeting on Wednesday. If approved, under standing orders, it would then go to a vote of the full PLP at Westminster.
Under party rules, Williamson would be entitled to make representations to the parliamentary committee before his case is referred to the PLP.
Responding to the news on 28 June, Williamson tweeted:
I’m naturally concerned by the lack of due process and consistency in how my case is being handled. I’ve been a loyal Labour member for 43 years, and will do my utmost to fight for my membership.
“Wholly inappropriate for a leader to pick and choose cases”
A Labour source insisted that Corbyn was not involved in the party’s disciplinary processes or individual cases, saying:
It would be wholly inappropriate for a leader to pick and choose cases in the way that is being demanded.
Several of the MPs who have signed (Mr Watson’s statement) have in the past argued against political interference.
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