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Diane Abbott has Labour whip restored after investigation

Diane Abbott has had the Labour whip restored after an investigation into her conduct, Sky News understands.

The first black woman to be elected to parliament, Ms Abbott was suspended from the party last year after writing a letter in The Guardian suggesting Jewish people do not face racism, and that instead they suffer prejudice similar to “redheads”.

She apologised shortly after it was published, but had remained sitting as an independent MP for more than a year while the party’s national executive committee carried out its investigation.

Sky News now understands that she had the whip returned to her earlier today, paving the way for the veteran MP to run for Labour again in her Hackney North constituency, should she wish to stand in July’s election.

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Ms Abbott has been a Labour MP since 1987 when she made history by becoming the first black woman to sit on the Commons’ benches.

A stalwart on the left of the party, she is a close ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and served as his shadow home secretary during his tenure.

Her initial suspension was welcomed last April by a range of MPs from across the House and by groups representing the Jewish community.

But as the length of the investigation into her conduct grew, questions were also raised about the motivations of the current leadership and whether she would be allowed back into the party’s ranks.

Speculation grew further after a report in The Guardian exposed remarks that had been made about her by one of the Conservatives’ largest donors Frank Hester, saying Ms Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Many from the Labour movement called for her to have the whip reinstated at this time, but while party leader Sir Keir Starmer was seen offering her support in the chamber, he repeatedly said the investigation needed to be concluded.

Reports were swirling earlier on Tuesday that Ms Abbott might be ejected from the party entirely, along with claims the investigation had been wrapped up months ago.

And there were suggestions she could even join her friend and ally Mr Corbyn on the outside and run as an independent for the general election on 4 July.

But shortly before 7pm, Sky News discovered she had been reinstated.

Sir Keir was asked by reporters about her case when he was on the campaign trail in Hertfordshire this afternoon but gave little away, saying: “The process overall is obviously a little longer than the fact-finding exercise.

“But in the end, this is a matter that will have to be resolved by the National Executive Committee and they’ll do that in due course.”

However, Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden said it was “inconceivable” Sir Keir wasn’t told the process had finished.

“No ifs, no buts,” said Mr Holden. “This isn’t another flip-flop or yet another policy U-turn. Sir Keir Starmer has blatantly lied to the British people and has serious questions to answer.”

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