REVEALED: Labour MPs given trigger ballot guide as 'purge' fears grow
With the next general election potentially just weeks away, Labour MPs have until next Monday to tell party bosses whether they plan to stand again.
This is just the start of the process, however. Those who decide they would like to continue in their jobs will then face the prospect of a "trigger ballot" if party members in their constituency decide they want to give someone else a go.
In that situation, they will have to run against other party members vying to be the Labour candidate in their seat.
PoliticsHome revealed last week that some MPs believed this was the beginning of a "purge" by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who believe they have not been loyal enough to the party leader.
It has now emerged that Jennie Formby, Labour's general secretary, has written to all of the party's MPs setting out when a trigger ballot can take place, and what the process is once it has been set in train.
The "FAQs document" explains that an MP is triggered when "one third or more of Labour Party branches or one third or more of affiliated branches, who return their ballot, indicate they wish a selection to take place".
MPs can breathe a sigh of relief during August, the three-page document explains, because Constituency Labour Parties don't hold any meetings that month as members are usually away on holiday. No meetings means no trigger ballots.
The timetable for any trigger ballots will be drawn up by Jennie Formby in consultation with the local regional director, the document explains.
Meanwhile, there is good news for suspended MPs Kelvin Hopkins and Chris Williamson. The document says: "Suspended Labour MPs are not eligible to be triggered."
The same goes for MPs on maternity leave, or if they have been elected since the 2017 general election.
Explaining why the party has begun the trigger process now, the document says: "In anticipation of an Autumn election the NEC has taken the decision to begin the Trigger Ballot process to ensure we are prepared to fight a General Election."
But one Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "This clearly demonstrates that the leadership has made it easier to trigger and deselect hard-working MPs.
"Rather than them trying to purge the Labour party, they would be better to purge those from the leadership team who don’t promote party policy on Brexit or vote with the party whip.
"Jeremy may not be physically frail but his leadership is. He must call off the hounding and harassment of his own MPs ASAP."