- Jeremy Corbyn will soon stand down as Labour Party leader after a heavy defeat for his party in the UK general election this month.
- Corbyn will exit the frontline of British politics after presiding over the worst result for his party in a century.
- Potential candidates are lining up to replace him.
- Here are the runners and riders in the coming race for the Labour leadership.
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Jeremy Corbyn has announced his plans to resign as Labour Party leader after a historic defeat for his party in the United Kingdom’s general election in December.
The Labour leader said that he would remain in post while the party “reflected” on its future but would not lead them into another election.
The scale of Boris Johnson’s victory means that whoever replaces Corbyn will have a huge mountain to climb in order to form a Labour government at the next general election, currently scheduled for 2024.
The leadership race is likely to be bitterly fought between candidates from Corbyn’s wing of the party and those on Labour’s “soft left”.
Here are the likely runners and riders in the race to replace Corbyn.
Sir Keir Starmer
The Shadow Brexit Secretary is a rare beast within the Labour Party in that he has generally maintained the respect of both Corbyn’s supporters as well as his critics.
The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Starmer has grown into a formidable figure in the party, thanks to his strong House of Commons performances and forensic scrutiny of the government’s Brexit plans. He was the first choice of Labour members to replace Corbyn in one poll conducted earlier this year.
However, Starmer will be forced to defend his role in pushing Corbyn to take a more anti-Brexit position. Given Labour’s hammering in Leave-voting areas in this election, Starmer’s position as the most pro-Remain frontline politician in the party will not necessarily work in his favour.
- DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Starmer will face competition on the fervently pro-European wing of the party from the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who has confirmed she will definitely enter the contest.
Thornberry is another formidable operator who remained part of Corbyn’s team despite coming from a very different political tradition to the Labour leader. YouGov’s polling suggests that she is in a good position to capitalise on the party’s anti-Brexit membership.
However, with the campaign against Brexit all but over, this may not prove to be the advantage it once appeared.
Long-Bailey has long been groomed by Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to be the heir to the Corbyn project.
The Shadow Business Secretary is in a good position to be the left’s candidate, but is by no means assured of taking that position.
There is also a popular school of thought within the party that the next leader ought to be a woman from outside of London, potentially putting Mancunian Long-Bailey at an advantage.
The same applies to Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who is another another possible contender. She is an engaging politician with strong support within the party membership.
She is a close friend of Long-Bailey – the pair share a flat in London – and could choose to step aside to give her colleague a clearer run at the top job. Allies of Rayner say she has not made a formal decision whether to run for the leadership yet, but that discussions are currently focused on securing the deputy role instead.
Like Thornberry, shadow Treasury minister Lewis has confirmed he will enter the leadership race, with a pitch to give party members an even greater say in policy and the selection of MPs.
He criticised Corbyn’s “prevarication and lack of leadership” and said his party had lost the election because it had failed to convince voters in Labour heartlands that it had transformed since the Blair era of New Labour.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, the MP for Norwich South suggested that Corbyn’s failure was due to the fact he did not democratise the party “on the scale or to the extent members were led to expect” and pledged to “unleash” the membership if he was selected as leader.
His pitch places him firmly to the left of his potential leadership rivals, which could prove popular given that many Labour members signed up after Jeremy Corbyn took over the party.
But Lewis is an avid Remainer, which could place him at a disadvantage in the leadership race. Many party members and MPs believe Corbyn’s eventual decision to back a second referendum was one of the principal reasons that the party suffered such devastating losses in Leave-voting Labour heartlands.
Phillips has become a well-known political figure in recent years despite not serving in the Shadow Cabinet. She is reportedly considering a run for leader.
Her outspoken views and regular appearances in the broadcast and print media have gained her a lot of support among those in the party who have been critical of Corbyn’s leadership.
She is something of a polarising figure for the party membership, and would probably struggle to gain the sort of support she would need to become a viable candidate.
- Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan, has confirmed she is “seriously considering” running for the leadership. She said she could bridge the divide between Labour’s traditional heartlands, many of which were lost to the Conservatives, and its remaining strongholds in metropolitan areas.
She is seen as being to the right of candidates such as Long-Bailey and Lewis, which means she could struggle to win support among the membership.
But she represents a Leave-voting constituency, and consistently resisted attempts by her colleagues to shift party policy towards a more pro-Remain position.
That could give her an edge in the leadership race if a consensus emerges that the party’s support for a second referendum contributed significantly to its losses in Labour heartlands.
- Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Labour Party Chairman Ian Lavery has confirmed that he is considering running to be leader. His spokesperson told The Mirror: “He has had a tremendous amount of support and is seriously considering all of his options at present.”
Lavery, the MP for Wansbeck, is seen as a continuity Corbyn candidate, along with Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Notably, while in the Shadow Cabinet Lavery expressed concern with Corbyn’s decision to embrace a policy of a new Brexit referendum, arguing that it would alienate Leave voters. He has been a vocal critic of that decision since his party’s disastrous result in the general election.
Dan Jarvis, the MP for Barnsley Central and Sheffield City Region mayor, has indicated he may join the leadership race. But he is an arch-Blairire and likely to prove unpopular with the membership.
Yvette Cooper, the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, and one of the party’s best-known veterans, could also run.