A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn has acknowledged that George Galloway could be readmitted to the Labour Party before his five-year ban comes to an end.
The former Labour MP – who once declared the city of Bradford “an Israel-free zone” – was banned from returning to Labour after standing against the party as a Respect candidate in the 2015 election.
But when asked on Wednesday about calls from a leading ally of Mr Corbyn to readmit Mr Galloway, a spokesperson for the party leader said: “It’s not an issue for Jeremy”.
He added: “The rules within the Labour Party are clear that anyone who stands against Labour in elections is ineligible for Labour party membership for a period of five years.
“The only circumstance in which that can be changed is if the local CLP [constituency Labour Party] requests it and the decision is then with the National Executive Committee.”
On Tuesday, Andrew Murray, the senior Unite official who helped run Mr Corbyn’s general election campaign, urged the party to think again over Mr Galloway.
Mr Murray said it was “long past time” for the “vicious, illegal and disgraceful decision to expel George Galloway from the Labour Party” to be overturned.
Mr Galloway, 63, was expelled after 16 years as a Labour MP in 2003 after he called on British troops fighting in the Iraq war to defy their orders.
But he remained closely involved with the Stop The War coalition alongside founder member and chairman Mr Corbyn.
After his expulsion Mr Galloway served as a Respect Party MP in Bethnal Green & Bow and in Bradford West, defeating a Labour candidate on both occasions.
In 2013 Mr Galloway walked out of a debate at Oxford University after discovering his opponent was Israeli, saying “I don’t debate with Israelis”.
Two years later he interviewed Israeli antisemite Gilad Atzmon on his Russia Today television show.