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Labour splits burst into open as MPs clash over radical party rule changes

Liz Bates

2 min read

Labour MPs have clashed over new rules which are set to hand more power to the left-wing of the party.


At a meeting yesterday, the party’s ruling National Executive Committee backed plans to lower the number of MP nominations any would-be leader needs to make it onto the ballot paper.

Instead of requiring the support of 15% of the Parliamentary Labour Party, as they do now, candidates will only need 10%.

That means it is virtually certain that another left-winger will be able to stand when Jeremy Corbyn eventually stands down.

In other changes, grassroots activists and trade unions are set to get more seats on the NEC.

Former Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander slammed the decision today, telling the BBC’s Daily Politics: "I don’t agree with it because I think MPs have a unique insight into the skills and characters of their colleagues and so I think the current 15% threshold is about right."

The Lewisham East MP also questioned the party’s priorities, suggesting it should be focused on attacking the Tories over Brexit rather than changing internal party structures.   

She said: “I think the most important thing for the party to be doing now is to be providing opposition to this government on the economically damaging way they are going about Brexit."

But shadow fire minister Chris Williamson - a stanch ally of Mr Corbyn - told the same programme: "(This is an) incredible, great success for democracy in the party because it will allow members to have a greater say... I am on record as saying that I don’t think MPs should act as gatekeepers because the important thing now is that we are a mass movement."

Mr Williamson, who has previously said that MPs should have no say on who stands for leader, added: "I think what is really important is that any time we have a leadership election in the future that all shades of opinion are represented on the ballot paper."

The proposed changes to the Labour rule book will be formally voted on at Labour's conference next week, and are expected to pass.

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Read the most recent article written by Liz Bates - Jeremy Corbyn admits he would rather see a Brexit deal than a second referendum

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