Mon, 25 September 2023

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Labour cancels conference to announce new leader amid coronavirus outbreak

2 min read

Labour has cancelled the conference to announce its new leader because of the mounting coronavirus crisis, the party has confirmed.

In a statement, the party said the one-off April 4 event to unveil the successor to Jeremy Corbyn would now not go ahead.

But they confirmed that a "scaled back event" would still take place on the same date to confirm whether Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy or Rebecca Long-Bailey will become the next leader.

A spokesperson said: "In light of the spread of coronavirus, Labour has cancelled the leadership elections special conference scheduled for 4 April."

And they added: "The final remaining leadership hustings event is also cancelled. And Welsh Labour Conference and Scottish Labour Women's Conference are postponed.

"The results of the leadership and deputy leadership elections will be announced at a scaled back event on the same date and we are now considering options for what form that event will take. 

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly. Our priority is the wellbeing of our members and staff, and ensuring we fully contribute to the collective effort to protect public health."

The move comes after the Liberal Democrats confirmed that they were pulling their own Spring conference - slated for this weekend - in a bid to protect members. Plaid Cymru has taken the same step, saying the "health and wellbeing" of its members was "of paramount importance".

Labour said it was also mulling a pause on local party meetings in light of the spread of the virus.

"We are considering whether upcoming constituency meetings should go ahead and will keep our members fully informed," the spokesperson said.

Labour's announcement came after a fresh meeting of the Government's Cobra crisis committee. 

Speaking after the meeting, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the UK Government had decided to move to the 'delay' phase of its response, which will focus on slowing the peak of the virus to ease an expected strain on the NHS.

She said: "That shift from contain to delay clearly has implications. The initial implication of that is a change in the advice that we are now giving to the general public.

"The advice that we will be giving now is that from tomorrow if you have symptoms that are indicative of having coronavirus you should stay at home. You should self-isolate for a period of seven days."

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