Jeremy Corbyn’s centre-left critics are launching a systematic fightback aimed at preventing the Labour leader from ensuring a leftist successor if he steps down before 2020.
With renewed speculation about Corbyn’s future on Sunday, when Labour’s election coordinator Ian Lavery said there were “plenty of leaders to pick from”, some MPs were celebrating a series of local victories against candidates backed by the grassroots, pro-Corbyn Momentum group.
Few MPs expect an imminent leadership challenge, but by organising in constituencies across the country, they hope to prevent Labour’s annual conference from adopting what some call the “McDonnell clause”, a rule change that would lower the threshold for the number of nominations needed to get a future leadership contender on the ballot paper.
It emerged at the weekend that Labour has been road-testing the rising stars of the shadow cabinet, including the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, and the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in focus groups with members of the public. Labour sources denied that the exercise had anything to do with “succession planning”.
Discussing the polling, which was leaked to the Sunday Times, on Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live, Lavery said: “I think they are fantastic candidates. I think we have got lots of quality in the Labour party and it’s not just the two that’s been mentioned.”
Asked if that meant there were plenty of potential…