No reason Diane Abbott can't stand in general election as a Labour candidate, says Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner has said Diane Abbott should be able to stand as a Labour candidate - as she denied the party's leadership is acting in a "factional way".

The deputy Labour leader told political editor Beth Rigby on the Sky News Daily Podcast that she can't see any reason why the veteran Corbyn ally "can't be a Labour MP if that's what she wants to do".

General Election Latest: Dropped Labour candidate launches legal action

A row erupted over Ms Abbott's future after she finally had the whip restored following a year-long suspension over comments she made about Jewish people not facing racism.

While the move paved the way for her to fight for her seat in Hackney North, which she has represented for 37 years, there were reports she would be barred from standing.

But Ms Rayner told Sky News: "I don't think there's any reason why Diane can't stand as a Labour MP.

"She's gone through a process, that's right... she apologised, as far as I've seen, that has been dealt with.

"The whip has told her that she's back as a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

"I don't see any reason why she can't be a Labour MP."

Asked if she would like to see Ms Abbott fight for her seat in the general election, Ms Rayner said she would like to see her "go on her terms if she wants to or if she wants to stay, then she should be able to stay".

She called Ms Abbott, the first black woman to be elected to parliament, a "trailblazer" and said briefings about her were "very disrespectful".

"You've got to respect that she is a formidable representative for her constituents and she's been an inspiration to many people who see that she is a trailblazer," Ms Rayner said.

"What troubles me is these anonymous briefings.

"Keir absolutely despises them... he doesn't like anything that looks trashy. He's not that type of person so I know that he will be as frustrated as I am with these briefings.

"It doesn't help anyone and it's very disrespectful to Diane."

👉 Listen above then tap here to follow the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said yesterday no decision had been made to bar Ms Abbott.

But she refuted this at a rally in Hackney North in which she vowed to stand "by any means possible" and accused the Labour leadership of culling the Labour left.

Read More:
Diane Abbott says she will stand in Hackney 'by any means possible'

Beth Rigby analysis - Abbott row becomes 'barnacle on the boat' for Labour

On Wednesday night another left wing candidate - Faiza Shaheen - was banned from standing for Labour after complaints she "liked" social media posts that allegedly downplayed antisemitism.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who was MP for Brighton Kemptown and also on the left of the party, said he had been suspended by Labour over a "vexatious and politically motivated complaint" against him and said he is not being allowed to stand for the party.

Meanwhile, several candidates loyal to the Labour leadership have been confirmed in safe seats.

The internal chaos has cast a shadow over the party's general election campaign, which kicked off to a good start with a poll suggesting Labour has a 27-point lead over the Tories.

Ms Rayner defended her boss, saying: "I don't think Keir is acting in a factional way."

She added: "You do have factions in the Labour Party, you've got that in all political parties. But you know, our party will only succeed if we're a broad church."