Rachel Reeves says she is 'pleased' Jeremy Corbyn is not Prime Minister

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she is “pleased” Jeremy Corbyn is not prime minister as she addressed criticism that Sir Keir Starmer is facing for being in the former Labour leader’s shadow cabinet.

Asked about whether it is a coincidence that she was never in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, the Leeds West MP told Times Radio: “No, I stood down when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party.

“But I have huge respect for the work that that Keir did in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet on Brexit, and he also he consistently called out antisemitism. He always was a strong voice for Britain’s membership of Nato in the shadow cabinet.

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“And some people called out Jeremy Corbyn from the back benches, like me, and some people from the front benches, like Keir.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves with Labour leader Sir Keir StarmerShadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

“But Keir has suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the parliamentary Labour Party, and as you said yesterday, (he) just doesn’t see a way back for Mr Corbyn after not just the antisemitism, which is deplorable and which Keir is rooting out from our party, but also because of Mr Corbyn’s views and language on Nato on this programme just last week.”

Asked if Mr Corbyn would have made a bad prime minister, she said: “Yes, I’m pleased that he’s not prime minister, but I don’t like the prime minister we’ve got either, and that’s why I’m campaigning for Keir Starmer to be the next prime minister – a Labour prime minister.”

Sir Keir Starmer said on Sunday that it is “difficult” to see how his predecessor as leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, could have the whip restored following his comments on Nato.

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Last week, Mr Corbyn suggested military alliances like Nato could build up “greater danger” in the world and should ultimately be disbanded.

The former Labour leader lost the Labour whip in 2020 over his response to the equalities watchdog’s report into antisemitism in the party.

Although he was reinstated as a Labour member after a suspension, Sir Keir Starmer has refused to readmit him to the parliamentary party.

Sir Keir, asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme whether Mr Corbyn could be restored as a Labour MP following the comments, said: “It is very difficult to see how that situation can now be resolved.

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“He lost the whip because of his response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in relation to antisemitism but I made it very clear, the first thing I said as party leader was that I was going to tear out antisemitism by its roots in our party.

“I’ve also made it clear that our position in the Labour Party is not to accept the false equivalence between Russian aggression and the acts of Nato.”

Told that it sounded as if he was against Mr Corbyn returning as a Labour MP, Sir Keir replied: “I’m very clear on my positions on those two issues, very clear.”

Mr Corbyn, the MP for Islington North and a long-standing critic of Nato, told Times Radio last week that he did not blame Nato for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine but questioned: “Do military alliances bring peace?”

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Mr Corbyn acknowledged the transatlantic alliance was not going to be scrapped immediately but added that people should “look at the process that could happen at the end of the Ukraine war”.

Mr Corbyn has described the choice to remove the Labour whip from him as a “totally unjustified decision”.

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