Tuesday 20 February 2018

Defiant Corbyn wins right to stand as leader

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Ben Riley-Smith

Labour MPs hoping to remove Jeremy Corbyn from office were last night dealt a major blow after the party's ruling body decided he did not need the support of MPs to re-run for the leadership.

The Labour leader's claim that he should be on the ballot automatically was passed by a margin of just four votes - including his own - in a fraught meeting of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC).

The decision means that Mr Corbyn will battle Angela Eagle for the leadership in a brutal summer contest that MPs fear could split the party, pitting hard Left-wingers against moderates.

However, there was also a boost for Labour rebels as rules that allowed anyone to vote in the leadership contest last summer by paying just £3 were ditched. Instead the price has been increased to £25, while full-time members must have been affiliated to the party for at least six months to vote - barring the 100,000 new members who joined in recent weeks.

The vote for Mr Corbyn to get on the ballot automatically passed by 18 votes to 14 after a heated meeting that lasted almost six hours. There was speculation that the Labour Party could formally challenge the vote through the courts last night, though leading moderates played that down.

Labour rebels were left infuriated by the decision, claiming the trade unions had "done us over" by propping up Mr Corbyn and saying he does not have the "moral authority" to lead. They must now attempt to defeat a man who won an overwhelming majority from party members less than a year ago.

Ms Eagle, who triggered the contest, said: "I am glad the NEC has come to a decision. I welcome the contest ahead and I am determined to win it."

John McTernan, Tony Blair's former director of political operations, told Sky News that trade unions who voted with Mr Corbyn had "stabbed the party in the heart". "This is the end of the Labour Party, nothing more or less than that … the unions have destroyed the Labour Party," he said.

Irish Independent

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