Labour leadership result event could be scrapped amid coronavirus outbreak, John McDonnell reveals
The Labour leadership result could be announced behind close doors as a result the growing coronavirus outbreak, according John McDonnell.
The Shadow Chancellor said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the party scrapped its plans for a special conference on 4 April if large gatherings of people are banned.
Hundreds of party members and journalists were expected to attend the event at the end of the three-month contest to find Jeremy Corbyn's replacement.
But speaking to ITV News, Mr McDonnell said the party could instead announce the result via a special television broadcast or on social media amid growing fears over the spread of the virus.
Asked if the conference may not go ahead as planned, he said: "I wouldn't be surprised, but again we will follow exactly whatever we are advised. The professionals will advise us but I wouldn't be surprised.
"If the medical advice over the next week that we end large gatherings and the rest then we will follow that, of course we will."
Asked about alternative arrangements for the event, the outgoing Shadow Chancellor added: "In the normal way, it would be a TV event or through social media.
"The one thing I have a great relief about is that I have nothing to do with the organisation of internal elections in the Labour Party.
"I am not on the National Executive Committee and I've got enough on my plate with the Budget at the moment. "
His comments come after both the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru announced they had cancelled their spring conferences in a bid to avoid the spread of the disease.
Both parties said they had made the decision in response to advice from the World Health Organisation that "urgent and aggressive action" was required to combat the outbreak.
In a statement, a Labour spokesperson said no decision had been made on the event.
They added: "We will of course be led by the official medical advice, in consultation with our NEC and the leadership candidates."