A Labour frontbencher has said he is "delighted" that Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald has been welcomed back into the party after an internal investigation into remarks he made at a pro-Palestine rally found he had not breached party rules.

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.

On Wednesday (March 13) a Labour spokesperson confirmed he had had the whip restored.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey told The Northern Echo he was delighted by McDonald’s return to the party.

He said: “The comments caused concern at the time which is why he was suspended and there was an investigation.

The Northern Echo: John Healey.John Healey. (Image: DANIEL HORDON)

“I am delighted that he’s back as a fully-fledged Labour MP. I have worked closely with Andy over the years – he’s a great local champion and he’s a formidable campaigner and he has a track record. As a lawyer before he came into parliament, he championed the causes of forces and forces' families that were losing out through a system where if they may have been injured they weren’t properly compensated.

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Get access for 4 months for just £4, or get 40% off an annual subscription with our latest offer. Click here.

“He’s a strong campaigner, I’m delighted he’s back.”

Critics of a chant that contains the phrase 'between the river and the sea' argue that it implicitly calls for the destruction of Israel.

Mr McDonald said on Wednesday it was “never my intention” to cause distress, adding: “I will not use that phrasing again.”

But Conservative candidate for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East Kiran Fothergill said: "The reinstatement of Andy McDonald by the Labour Party is a stark betrayal of the commitment to take decisive action against offensive rhetoric.

"It is a slap on the wrists for Andy McDonald and a slap in the face for the Jewish community.

"When Sir Keir promised decisive action and withdrew support for Azhar Ali during the Rochdale by-election, the people of Britain were led to believe that the Labour Party had turned the corner. Disappointingly, this is clearly not the case."