Jeremy Corbyn could be barred from Labour’s annual conference in Brighton this month and prevented from speaking at official events, party sources have confirmed.
The former leader, who had the whip suspended by Sir Keir Starmer l'anno scorso, has applied for a conference pass and accepted invitations to address several events, the Guardian understands.
Labour sources said “no decision has yet been made” about whether to accept his application or allow him to speak in the conference centre.
Corbyn supporters said rejecting his application would be a provocation by Starmer. “He is a Labour member: he should be entitled to attend any meeting in the conference zone,” said Richard Burgon, the Leeds East MP who chairs the Socialist Campaign Group of leftwing MPs.
“If the leadership decides to bar him from the conference, they would be doing so as a provocative act towards the membership, hoping that more leftwing members leave," Ha aggiunto.
Even if rejected, Corbyn will be able to address events at the fringe festival the World Transformed, which is taking place outside the formal conference zone.
One senior party aide said the leadership faced a “lose-lose” decision about whether to admit him to the main conference venue, raising the spectre of Boris Johnson’s packed-out speech at Tory conference in 2018 during Theresa May’s premiership.
Corbyn had his membership of Labour restored last November by the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC), but Starmer has declined to restore the whip, meaning that Corbyn currently sits as an independent.
Starmer told the Guardian last month that in order to be welcomed back into the fold, Corbyn would have to apologise for, and take down, comments made in the aftermath of the publication of the damning Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints.
In a statement that remains online, Corbyn claimed that the scale of antisemitism in Labour was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”.
Starmer’s team are keenly hoping the first in-person conference since he was elected leader will be a showcase for Labour’s values and policies. But a row has already erupted about whether the leftwing Young Labour group will be allowed to hold its own gathering as part of the conference.
The group’s chair, Jess Barnard, has complained that Young Labour – which represents all young Labour members – has not been given the support from the party’s general secretary, David Evans, that it needed to hold an event, and was told it would not be allowed to have Corbyn as a speaker.
The NEC recently agreed to proscribe four leftwing groups. Some MPs claim Starmer is carrying out a purge of Corbyn-supporting elements of the party, though the leadership say they are simply following through on their determination to root out antisemitism.