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Diane Abbott suggests Keir Starmer backed Remain to become Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott at an anti-Brexit rally organised by the People's Vote campaign - Credit: PA

Diane Abbott has accused Sir Keir Starmer of plotting to become Labour leader while he was Brexit minister in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, and suggested the new leader had used the Remain platform to achieve his goal.

The former shadow home secretary said Sir Keir’s ambitions were “fairly apparent” and accused him of running “a project of his own to become leader of the Labour Party”.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Abbott said: “I think it’s noticeable, having been Mr Remain all the way up until he got leadership of the party, you don’t hear much from Keir about Remain now.

“When Jeremy was leader, it was fairly apparent that Keir had other motives.”

Asked whether Sir Keir had always been a Remainer, Abbott responded: “I think he was Remain, everything about his background, part of the country he represented, makes you think that he probably was Remain, but he’s dispatched it, probably.”

Diane Abbott accuses Keir Starmer of ‘other motives’ while s

Abbott, a Corbyn ally, lost her position as shadow home secretary when Sir Keir become the party’s leader in April this year.

Her comment came as the head of the trade union Unite, Len McCluskey, said Corbyn should have asked Sir Keir and foreign secretary Emily Thornberry to leave the shadow cabinet if they wanted to continue to support Remain in the lead up to the 2019 general election.

Asked if he told Corbyn not to listen to people like Sir Keir, McCluskey said: “I was making it clear to the leadership at the time that if we moved toward a remain position, as we slowly did, then there would be consequences in our heartlands.”