Labour leadership contest: what are the rules?

Some things are known but a great deal has yet to be decided

A Labour leadership contest will take place before the party’s annual conference in September, so a new leader could be in place by the time the Conservatives choose their own.

Who can stand?

Angela Eagle will announce her challenge on Monday and has the support of at least 51 MPs, which is at least 20% of Labour MPs and MEPs. Owen Smith, a former shadow work and pensions secretary, is also said to have enough names to mount a challenge but has yet to announce that he will stand.

If the leadership were vacant – because Corbyn had resigned, though that doesn’t appear likely – each candidate would require only 15% of MPs and MEPs, which would be 38 names.

There is a clear difference of legal opinion as to whether an incumbent Labour leader who is challenged by another MP also needs to receive nominations. There is likely to be a significant battle, however, if Corbyn is not on the ballot paper.

Who will decide whether Corbyn can stand?

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) is expected to hold an emergency meeting this Tuesday.

The NEC’s Johanna Baxter says the committee has not yet seen the legal advice produced for the leader’s office, the party and some rebel MPs – which apparently differ on whether Corbyn should be on the ballot paper without nominations – which she called “unacceptable”.

Lord Kinnock, the former Labour leader, has insisted Corbyn would need nominations but legal advice produced by Doughty Street Chambers and published online gives the opinion that he would not.

How does the voting work?

Members, affiliates and registered supporters all get one vote and the winner is the first to get 50% of the total, through several rounds of voting. When Corbyn was elected leader, he secured 59.5% of the vote in the first round.

Will registered supporters get to pay £3 and vote again?

The NEC will set a “freeze date” by which you must have joined the party as an affiliate, a member or a supporter in order to vote.

Last year that date was two days before the opening of the ballot, which was chaotic for Labour HQ staff trying to verify new members and supporters, and the NEC is thought to be keen to avoid a repeat of this.

Registered supporters who paid £3 to sign up last year do not have an ongoing relationship with the party and would have to register again. However, the fee will be set by the NEC and they may decide to change it, given the volume of people who signed up last time.


Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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