Diane Abbott has Labour whip suspended amid racism letter investigation

The party confirmed it was looking into correspondence she wrote about racism for The Observer newspaper.

Diane Abbott has Labour whip suspended amid racism letter investigation UK Parliament

The Labour whip has been suspended from Diane Abbott pending an investigation into a letter she wrote about racism for The Observer newspaper, the party has confirmed.

The MP has been the member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in the House of Commons since 1987.

She served in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn as shadow home secretary from 2016 to 2020.

A party spokesman said: “The Labour Party completely condemns these comments, which are deeply offensive and wrong.

“The chief whip has suspended the Labour whip from Diane Abbott pending an investigation.”

Abbott said on Twitter: “I am writing regarding my letter that was recently published in The Observer.

“I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my written remarks and disassociate myself from them.

“The errors arose in an initial draft being sent. But there is no excuse and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.

“Racism takes many forms and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others.

“Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.”

Abbott had been responding to a comment which suggested that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from racism in the UK.

She wrote: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice.

“But they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus.

“In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

The 69-year-old was the first black woman elected to the UK Parliament and is the longest-serving black MP in the Commons.

Since leaving the frontbench she has been a vocal critic of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Labour Against Antisemitism said Abbott’s comments were “simply unacceptable” and called on Sir Keir to remove the whip from her.

Spokeswoman Fiona Sharpe said: “To reduce the racism faced by Jews to mere prejudice when in living memory six million Jews were systematically slaughtered in Europe for their race is grossly offensive.

“In the UK today one in five of all Jews have suffered a racist attack, with more than one in three Gypsy, Roma and Traveller reporting the same.

“Ms Abbott is either woefully misinformed or deliberately bigoted. Neither should be tolerated.”

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