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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Diane Abbott is “free to go forward as a Labour candidate”, ending days of speculation about the veteran left-winger’s future.

Ms Abbott, the first female black MP, had claimed she had been banned from standing for Labour at the general election on 4 July.

Sir Keir has now given Ms Abbott his blessing to stand in Hackney North and Stoke Newington – a seat she has represented since 1987.

Labour’s National Executive Committee has the final say on Ms Abbott’s candidacy – but a senior party source told the BBC the group will not block her from standing.

Ms Abbott has yet to comment.

But speaking at a rally outside Hackney Town Hall on Tuesday, she said: “I promise you that as long as it is possible, I will be the Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.”

Left-wing Labour group Momentum called the decision “a huge victory” for Ms Abbott.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “Starmer tried to force her out. She held firm – and won.

“You come at the queen, you better not miss.”

The last week has been dominated by a stand-off between Ms Abbott and the Labour leadership.

Sir Keir had repeatedly dodged questions on Ms Abbott’s future, even after she appeared to confirm reports in the Times newspaper that she had been blocked from standing as a Labour candidate despite having the whip restored.

On Thursday deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner raised the pressure on Sir Keir, telling Sky News: “I don’t see any reason why Diane Abbott can’t stand as a Labour MP.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Angela Rayner is pushing Keir Starmer around.

“Under pressure, he’s showing he’s a weak leader who’s losing control of the Labour Party.”

Ms Abbott was suspended from Labour last year after suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience prejudice, but not racism “all their lives”, sparking a long-running process which saw her sit as an Independent MP.

She apologised on X, formerly known as Twitter, and withdrew her remarks.

On Tuesday, Ms Abbott had the Labour whip restored, but told the BBC she had been “barred” from running for the party in the upcoming election.

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