Labour denies Sir Keir Starmer promised peerages for MPs to step down to make space for his candidates

Labour has denied claims it is offering peerages to former Labour MPs so they stand down to make space for Sir Keir Starmer's chosen candidates.

A number of left-wing Labour candidates, who were MPs until the election was called, told The Times they were told they would be elevated to the House of Lords if they gave up their seats.

But Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, told Sky News's Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: "No party can do that, it's not the way the system works."

She added that there is a "whole process" for an independent committee to vet nominations to the Lords so it is not possible for Sir Keir, or any party leader, to promise anybody a seat there.

The allegation came after Sir Keir was accused of trying to get rid of candidates to the left of the party.

Veteran MP Diane Abbott accused him of "culling" Labour left-wingers after two potential candidates, Faiza Shaheen and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, were blocked from standing.

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News Sir Keir is "clearly intervening" in a "purge" of left-wing candidates.

But Sir Keir has denied that, saying he wants "the highest quality candidates".

Whether Ms Abbott, the first female black MP, would be allowed to stand or not for the Labour Party has taken over the headlines in the first week of the election campaign.

Asked by Trevor Phillips if she expects Ms Abbott to be the Labour candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Ms Cooper said: "I assume so, yes.

"I'm very glad it's been resolved for Diane. She continues to be a very important figure in the Labour Party."

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Ms Abbott was given the Labour whip back at the beginning of the week after a year-long investigation over a letter she wrote suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people do not face racism.

Confusion reigned when she claimed she had been barred from standing for Labour in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, the seat she has held for 37 years.

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Sir Keir said no decision had yet been taken and it was not up to him, but the party's national executive committee.

Then on Friday, he said: "She is free to go forward as a Labour candidate."

Ms Abbott said she would not be making a comment until she is officially endorsed by the party's ruling National Executive Committee next week.

But she told Sky News that "the narrative does look positive".

Labour sources said she will be the Labour candidate in her east London constituency and is expected to ratify the decision when it meets on Tuesday.