Jeremy Corbyn could back mandatory reselection of Labour MPs as part of major party shake-up
Jeremy Corbyn could back the mandatory reselection of Labour MPs as part of plans to "democratise" the party, it has emerged.
A senior source close to the Labour leader said he had yet to make up his mind on the controversial proposal, which is vehemently opposed by most of his MPs.
The development came in the wake of shadow fire minister Chris Williamson - one of Mr Corbyn's closest supporters - said automatic reselection could help "concentrate minds" among his parliamentary colleagues.
Fellow frontbencher Ian Lavery, who was also appointed Labour chairman after the election, has also given his backing to a change in the current rules, which require a two-thirds majority for local parties to hold so-called "trigger ballots" on their MPs.
Speaking to reporters, the Corbyn source said: "Jeremy's leadership from the start had as one of its goals the democratisation of the Labour party and our wider political system.
"There's no doubt there will be changes to the way the Labour party operates to take account of the fact that we've now got upwards of 550,000 members. We want to see a much more engaged, proactive and democratic organisation going into the future.
"When it comes to particular reforms, Jeremy hasn't taken a position on them, but he wants to see a wider democratisation of the party. When it comes to how the systems of selection and reselection of MPs, there already is a system in place of trigger ballots in normal circumstances and the Labour party nationally is discussing when selections will take place at the moment.
"Jeremy has not taken a position on any reforms of the system for the future and that would be dealt with by the party at the conference."
The comments mark a shift from 2015, when Mr Corbyn said: "I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that I do not support any changes to Labour’s rules to make it easier to deselect sitting Labour MPs."
Speaking to ITV News earlier this week, Mr Williamson said: "MPs need to reflect the political programme that is overwhelmingly supported by Labour members and Labour supporters and if people aren’t prepared to do that then it will be up to members in their local constituencies to find someone else who will."
And Mr Lavery told the Huffington Post: "Everything is going to be reviewed. That’s the point I am making.
"You can’t be any more democratic than allowing the people in your constituency to pick who they want as their MP. I think that’s really fair and really important.
"That is the way it is at the minute, by the way, but perhaps we need to look at different ways and means. Listen, if you get de-selected in a constituency there must be a reason for it."