Labour denies promising peerages to get MPs to stand down

No party can “make those sorts of commitments” to promise peerages, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

The Sunday Times has claimed a number of former Labour MPs including Diane Abbott have been offered peerages to quit and open up seats for allies of party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Amid the ongoing speculation as to whether Britain’s first black woman MP would be permitted to stand for Labour in the election, the party have also faced allegations of a “cull” against left-wing members in its candidate selection.

Ms Cooper distanced the party from the peerage accusations, stating: “No party can do that, it’s not the way the system works.”

She told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News: “There’s a whole process with the independent committee that will vet nominations, there have to be processes in terms of the numbers of nominations, designated by the Prime Minister and so on.

“So, no party can do that or make those sorts of commitments.”

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Yvette Cooper appearing on Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Asked if Sir Keir had promised anyone a seat in the Lords, Ms Cooper said: “That’s not the way the system works.

“The thing that we do know is we’ve seen a series of quite shocking Conservative resignation honours list from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss, and Keir has already said that he would change the way that he approaches all of those things.

“Indeed, he’s said that he wouldn’t have a resignation honours list as well because it’s been so distorted by the way that the Conservatives have done that.”

Academic Faiza Shaheen was blocked from running in the Chingford and Woodford Green constituency as a Labour candidate, allegedly in relation to past posts on social media website X.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the previous MP for Brighton Kemptown, was told he cannot stand after being suspended by Labour over what he called a “vexatious and politically-motivated complaint” against him.

Men who are seen to be more politically aligned with Starmer have been announced as parliamentary candidates, including Luke Akehurst, a member of the executive committee, Torsten Bell, chief of the Resolution Foundation think tank, and Alex Barros-Curtis, a legal aide who lead Sir Keir’s run to be Labour leader.

Asked why Ms Shaheen or Mr Russell-Moyle are not being permitted to stand while former Tories are welcomed to the party, Ms Cooper said: “Neither Natalie Elphicke nor Mark Logan are standing as Labour candidates in the election.

“We want people to support the Labour Party, we want people who have not voted Labour in the past to vote Labour this time because it really is time for change.”

She added: “Yes, it’s true, we have clear standards and complaints processes around having standards for candidates.

“And, yes, it’s true that Keir Starmer has changed the Labour Party after the 2019 election, and right that he should do so.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins suggested Labour is having a “bit of an identity crisis”.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Ms Atkins said she would not comment on individual Tories who have defected to Labour, saying they will have had their “own reasons for going”.

She then told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News: “It’s a great surprise, I think, to everyone, including possibly to Natalie Elphicke herself, that such a hard-right Conservative politician should choose to join Labour.

“But then we see this week from Labour that Sir Keir Starmer can’t work out whether Diane Abbott, one of his longest-standing and trailblazing Members of Parliament, should in fact be a Member of Parliament. He can’t work it out. So, it shows that there is a bit of an identity crisis within Labour.”

She added: “We see today that Sir Keir is suggesting giving out peerages to solve the problem and, interestingly, inserting some of his own, his boys’ club, into those very seats from which he’s ejecting women. I have noticed that.”

Sir Keir said that long-time MP Ms Abbott would be “free” to stand for Labour in Hackney and Stoke Newington, but it remains unclear if she will be selected.

Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, a close friend of Ms Abbott, said she had advised her to “take some time to consider what she wants to do”.

Baroness Chakrabarti told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I hope that she will now, after this sometimes sordid week of unauthorised anonymous briefings by overgrown schoolboys in suits with their feet on the table, maybe watching too much West Wing but not taking on its more progressive values.”

The baroness added that “it’s been pretty appalling, trying to bully someone of her stature”, and “it’s not good for Keir Starmer’s leadership, it’s not good for the Labour Party, and it hasn’t been very hasn’t been very nice for Diane and for common decency”.

Ms Cooper said she would “obviously support” Ms Abbott if she decides to stand for Labour.

She said: “It has to be Diane’s decision. I did listen to what Shami said. In fact, Shami, who’s very close to Diane, is saying this is for Diane to decide and I completely support that.

“Diane has been – continues to be – a really important figure in the Labour Party, not just because of the trailblazing people have talked about, but also some of the things she did, for example she was crucial to exposing the Windrush scandal and holding the Government to account on that.”