Sturgeon quits while Starmer bars Corbyn from standing for Labour

Beyond England Policy & Politics Westminster

The shock decision by Nicola Sturgeon to stand down as Scotland’s first minister has overshadowed Sir Keir Starmer’s move to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from being a Labour MP.

Sturgeon, Scotland’s longest serving first minister told a press conference in Edinburgh she has been “wrestling” with the idea of resignation for “some weeks” before concluding it was in the interests of the country, the SNP and the independence movement.

She rejected any suggestion it is in response to any short-term issues having become embroiled in a row with Westminster over trans-rights and another independence referendum.

“This decision comes from a deeper and longer-term assessment,” sad Sturgeon. “I know it might seem sudden but I have been wrestling with it, albeit with oscillating levels of intensity, for some weeks.

“Essentially I’ve been trying to answer two questions. Is carrying on right for me? And, more importantly, is me carrying on right for the country, for my party and for the independence cause I have devoted my life to?

“I understand why some will automatically answer ‘yes’ to that second question but, in truth, I have been having to work harder in recent times to convince myself that the answer to either of them when examined deeply is yes and I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s not.”

Sturgeon has laid foundations for independence

Ian Blackford, who stepped down as the SNP’s leader at Westminster in December, said he is “very saddened by the decision” Sturgeon has taken even though it is “perfectly understandable given that Nicola has been in public life for so long”.

Blackford told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme Sturgeon “has laid the foundations, I believe, that will see the next leader be able to take the party, the movement, the country on to independence.”

Starmer bars Corbyn from standing for Labour

The SNP first minister’s surprise announcement has eclipsed the UK Labour leader’s decision to bar his predecessor from standing for Labour at the next election.

Starmer told Corbyn supporters that they should quit the party if they don’t like the direction of his leadership. Labour, said Starmer, will “never again be a party captured by narrow interests” and told his critics: “The door is open and you can leave.”

Corbyn was stripped of the party whip in October 2020 after an anti-semitism row but he remains a Labour member. However, Starmer today said there is no chance Corbyn would ever be a Labour candidate again.

“What I said about the party changing I meant and we are not going back,” Starmer said, adding: “We have changed from a party that looked inwards to a party that meets the public gaze. From a party of dogma to a party of patriotism,” he said.

“From a party of protest to a party of public service. Change is never easy and I understand that some people won’t like the changes we’ve made.

“But I say this with all candour – The Labour Party is unrecognisable from 2019 and it will never go back.”

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