Timetabling and regulations to be finalised for Labour leadership contest
Labour’s National Executive Committee will convene on Monday to set the timetable and rules for the party’s upcoming leadership contest, including who will be eligible to vote in it.
Since Jeremy Corbyn announced he would stand down following Labour’s fourth successive general election defeat in December, five Labour MPs – Clive Lewis, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry – have entered the frame to succeed him.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is also expected to formally announce her entry into the running later.
In order to participate, candidates must win the support of at least 21 Labour MPs and a minimum backing of five per cent of constituency parties or three affiliated bodies, two of which must be trade unions.
There will also be a separate contest to determine the new party deputy leader after Tom Watson stepped down in December, with shadow education secretary Angela Rayner expected to enter the running for the role along with confirmed participants Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Khalid Mahmood.
The result of the leadership contest is expected to be announced before May, to accommodate council and mayoral elections.
Over 500,000 people took part in the last leadership contest in 2016 when Corbyn was re-elected, and the eligibility of potential voters such as registered supporters will be key matters for the NEC to rule on, as well as the cut-off period for new Labour members to join and vote.
Current party rules state that anyone who wants to join as a full member and vote in the leadership contest has a two-week window to do so, but the NEC could look to extend that.
Since 2015, non-party members have had the right to sign up temporarily at a reduced rate in order to vote in leadership contests, but it remains to be seen as to whether this will change.
The status of MEPs is also a matter that the NEC will need to address. Members of the European Parliament will remain active during the nomination stages of the contest, but this is likely to alter after the UK leaves the EU on January 31.