Jeremy Corbyn ‘would struggle to beat Labour as independent’, says Sir John Curtice

Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer in 2019  (PA)
Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer in 2019 (PA)

Jeremy Corbyn will struggle to beat Labour if he stands as an independent at the next General Election, one of Britain’s leading pollsters said on Wednesday.

Sir John Curtice suggested that the ex-Labour leader would find it “very, very difficult” to win as an independent in Islington North.

Mr Corbyn hinted on Tuesday that he might stand as an independent after Sir Keir Starmer pushed a motion, agreed by Labour’s National Executive Committee, to ban his predecessor from standing for Labour at the next election.

Sir John told GB News: “It’s such a safe seat that the irony of that is that Mr Corbyn has to get a very large proportion of the vote to have a good chance of defeating the Labour candidate.

“I’m sure he will do creditably but the history of independent candidates trying to hang on to their seats shows it is a very, very difficult to do.”

He added that Sir Keir was probably trying to “draw a clear line” between himself and Mr Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn, who has been an MP since 1983, branded his ban from standing “a shameful attack on party democracy”.

He attacked his successor, saying Sir Keir had broken “his pledge to build a united and democratic Party that advances social, economic and climate justice”.

“I will not be intimidated into silence,” he added. “ I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now.”

Mr Corbyn, who has represented Islington North since 1983, currently sits as an independent, having lost the Labour whip.

On Tuesday, Labour’s ruling NEC voted 22 votes to 12 to ensure that Mr Corbyn “will not be endorsed by the NEC as a candidate on behalf of the Labour Party at the next general election”.

Referencing Labour’s bruising defeat in the 2019 General Election, its worst showing since the 1930s, the motion argues that it would be an electoral liability for Mr Corbyn to contest the seat for Labour.

Some of Mr Corbyn’s Left-wing allies in the party have criticised the move, arguing it is undemocratic.

MP Nadia Whittome, who has served on Sir Keir’s frontbench, described the motion as “divisive, an attack on party democracy and a distraction".

Prominent Labour activist Jon Lansman, the co-founder of the Corbynite Momentum pressure group, suggested Sir Keir Starmer was acting like an “authoritarian” in blocking Mr Corbyn’s candidacy.

While the former Labour leader does not have the party whip and will not be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate, the move does not affect his Labour party membership and right to attend party meetings.

He was suspended from the parliamentary party over his response to the damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report in 2020, which found that Labour had broken equalities law.