MPs warn against re-admitting Ken Livingstone to Labour amid speculation over future

Patrick Grafton-Green
Ken Livingstone was suspended from the party last April over his controversial comments surrounding Adolf Hitler: Lauren Hurley/PA

Labour MPs have warned against allowing Ken Livingstone to return to the party ahead of the end of his suspension over alleged anti-Semitism.

Speculation is rife surrounding the former London mayor’s future with his suspension from the party due to expire in April.

While it has been suggested he may be re-admitted, prominent backbenchers branded him an "embarrassment" and said he would bring Labour into disrepute.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said: "Nothing says socialism quite like 'I'll sue you if I don't get my way', forgive me but what does he offer the party other than embarrassment and ego?"

Ruth Smeeth, who has suffered anti-Semitic abuse on social media, told the Observer Mr Livingstone "continues to bring the party into disrepute" and "has no place in the party".

It is understood Mr Livingstone will face a fresh investigation by the National Executive Committee (NEC) when it meets in March and he will not be reinstated until that is resolved.

However Mr Livingstone said on Saturday he had "not heard a word" about what was happening with his membership.

He said: "I was suspended almost two years ago. The hearing was April last year. Ever since then I've not heard a word."

He has always insisted that he said Hitler had supported Zionism at one time, not that Hitler was a Zionist.

The former London mayor avoided expulsion in April 2017 at a disciplinary hearing of the NEC but it suspended him from the party for a further year.

"Everyone was expecting that they were going to expel me but I just pointed out that if they did I would go for judicial review," he said.

"They didn't have a chance of winning because I simply stated historical fact. I never said Hitler was a Zionist but that's the trouble with fake news these days.

"I've never heard about any other complaints.

"I'm a retired househusband. I haven't heard anything from anyone since the inquiry last April."

He added: "Until some decision is taken I'm not even thinking about it."

A Labour party spokesman said: "Ken Livingstone is suspended from the Labour Party. It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing disciplinary matter."

Additional reporting by Press Association