ELECTION 2019: Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey lead race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Posted On: 
13th December 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will not contest another election and formally kicking off the race to replace him as Labour leader. Here are the main contenders.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and John McDonnell are all seen as potential Labour leaders
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Keir Starmer

The favourite with the bookmakers, the former Director of Public Prosecutions has managed to slowly drag Jeremy Corbyn and the leader’s office into backing a second referendum as Shadow Brexit Secretary.

Seen outside of the left as a moderate, safe pair of hands he is an improving media performer and a forensic Commons debater, and will certainly pick up lots of support from MPs who weren’t supportive of the Corbyn project overall.

But he is unlikely to excite the members, and despite his obvious ambition, he was largely hidden during the election campaign. With the clamour for Labour to finally elect a female leader, he may be squeezed out by other candidates.


Rebecca Long-Bailey

The Salford MP has been seen as the heir to Mr Corbyn after serving under John McDonnell as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

And that label was stitched on after she was chosen to deputise for the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this year despite Emily Thornberry - another contender - being the usual stand-in.

Add to that the slick video highlighting her personal backstory released during the election campaign and the fact she again stood in for Corbyn during one of the election debates, and she is definitely the one to beat.


Angela Rayner

Another shadow Cabinet member tipped for the top job, although her close friendship with Long-Bailey could see the pair run on a joint ticket.

But if it is her name on the ballot paper expect Rayner to play up her working class credentials, an empowering personal narrative having left school pregnant with no qualifications, and her desire to see the result of the Brexit vote honoured.

A strong media performer who has won plenty of fans during her short parliamentary career, she would provide a very different kind of opponent to Boris Johnson.


Jess Phillips

Extremely popular with lots of people across the political spectrum for her no-nonsense, charismatic displays in the media and the chamber, she is one of very few Labour politicians to break out of the political bubble and into the mainstream.

But the proud Brummie is unfortunately not very popular with the one group who will ultimately decide the outcome of any leadership race - the party members - after her criticism of Labour’s performance under Corbyn.

She only has a shot if either the membership turns away from the direction it has travelled since 2015, if those who joined in large numbers that year leave it again, or if this result draws in thousands of new members who want a return to its recent past.


Emily Thornberry

The Shadow Foreign Secretary has remained steadfastly loyal to Corbyn after being brought into frontline Labour politics after her humiliating sacking by Ed Miliband after a row over an England flag.

She has tried to endear herself to the party’s left and has set out an unequivocal pro-EU position, but after Labour lost a swathe of Leave-backing northern heartlands she may struggle to convince she can win those voters back as a Remainer from North London.

Appearing alongside Islington constituency neighbour Corbyn at the election night count, Thornberry appeared to fire the starting gun on her own leadership campaign, saying: "We will tell Boris Johnson no, our fight is not over, our fight is just starting.”


John McDonnell

The Shadow Chancellor has often been suggested as the man best-placed to take over as leader, having been the intellectual driving force behind much of the flagship policies of the Corbyn project.

But after playing such a prominent role in the failed General Election campaign he seemed to rule himself out of contention, saying he will not serve "either as a temporary or a permanent" leader if there was a vacancy.

And he has previously said he "can't see" how either he or his close ally could stay on in their roles if they failed to win power this time round.