- Key lieutenant of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stands down due to “ill health”.
- Abbott has suffered a series of car-crash interviews in recent weeks.
- She fell victim to an email prankster posing as a Labour spinner.
- Labour activists tell BI she has become a liability to the campaign.
LONDON — The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has stood down from Labour’s campaign due to “ill health” a spokesperson said this morning.
Abbott, who is a key lieutenant to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pulled out of a planned interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Tuesday because of apparent ill health.
A Labour spokesperson said this morning that “Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, has asked Lyn Brown to stand in for Diane Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary for the period of her ill health.”
The announcement follows Abbott apparently falling victim to an email prank on Tuesday in which a person posing as Corbyn’s communications director Seumas Milne asked her to add “colour” to “the illness story”.
Abbott told the prankster, who previously duped Bank of England chief Mark Carney, that: “I am not sure what colour I can add. I have always enjoyed good health until the last few years. And diabetes, in itself, would not stop me doing Women’s Hour. I am worried about telling untruths about my health which are easily disproved.”
Asked about the exchange, a Labour spokesperson told Business Insider: “We’re not commenting on fake emails”.
The Conservative party has focused heavily on Abbott during this campaign following a series of disastrous media appearances.
Both Labour and Liberal Democrat sources have told Business Insider that she has become a major liability for Labour’s campaign with voters repeatedly raising her performance on both the doorstep and in focus groups.
Abbott’s supporters believe the attacks against her are a deliberate “dog-whistle” campaign designed to play on racism and sexism towards her. Asked about Abbott this morning, Corbyn said the criticism of her had been “unfair”.
“She’s not [been] well for a couple of days and she’s taking a break from the campaign,” he told the BBC.
“She has received unfair levels of abuse, not just recently, but over many years.”
“I will talk to her later today.”
is @HackneyAbbott really ill todayl? You decide. I chatted with her earlier today. GENUINE exchange. I was being Corbyn’s media advisor. pic.twitter.com/FNBGRBTWMY
— EMAIL PRANKSTER. (@SINON_REBORN) June 6, 2017