Andy McDonald has had the Labour whip restored after an internal investigation into remarks he made at a pro-Palestine rally found he had “not engaged in conduct that was against the party’s rulebook”.

The MP for Middlesbrough was suspended from the party in October last year after using the phrase “between the river and the sea” in a speech during a demonstration.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Chief Whip has today restored the Labour whip to Andy McDonald MP. This follows a full investigation by the Labour Party into complaints received about public remarks that he made in October 2023.

“The investigation concluded that he had not engaged in conduct that was against the party’s rulebook but reminded him of the importance of elected representatives being mindful, not only of what they say in public, but how their words may be interpreted, especially in reference to controversial or emotive issues.

“The Chief Whip met with Andy following the outcome of the investigation and received assurances that he understands the need to be mindful and about his future conduct.”

Mr McDonald, who had been sitting as an independent MP while the investigation took place, said his reference to the phrase was part of a “heartfelt plea” for peace in the Middle East.

Labour at the time described his remark as “deeply offensive”.

Mr McDonald is among a series of MPs and parliamentary candidates to have been stripped of party support over remarks made in relation to the Israel-Hamas war.

Kate Osamor had the whip withdrawn in January after she appeared to say the Gaza war should be remembered as genocide on Holocaust Memorial Day, before apologising for her comments.

Labour also withdrew its backing for its former Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali, after he allegedly suggested Israel used Hamas’s October 7 attack as a pretext to invade Gaza and blamed “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters” for Mr McDonald’s suspension.

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Party leader Sir Keir Starmer drew criticism for initially standing by the aspiring MP after he apologised for his comments about the conflict in the Middle East.

He later said he had taken “tough and decisive” action in response to the reported remarks about “Jewish quarters” and promised the party had “changed” since the Jeremy Corbyn era, which was often overshadowed by controversies surrounding the handling of antisemitism allegations.

Labour later removed its backing for Graham Jones, its candidate for Hyndburn, after it was reported that he had used the words “f****** Israel” at the same meeting attended by Mr Ali.