Labour agrees timetable for new leader to be in place [VIDEO]
A new Labour leader will be in place before Easter, the party has confirmed, with the result announced at a special conference on 4 April.
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Confirming the timetable to vote, the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) decided registered supporters will have to pay £25 to vote.
People with full membership will not have to pay extra to vote.
Supporters will have a 48-hour window to sign up next week. People in this group includes members of societies or unions affiliated to Labour, such as Unite, GMB, or Scientists for Labour.
According to ITV, leader Jeremy Corbyn voted to reduce the fee for supporters to vote to £12 but was outvoted.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: "Our National Executive Committee has agreed the timetable and process for the leadership and deputy leadership elections. The ballot will run from 21 February to 2 April, with the results announced on Saturday 4 April.
"We are by far the largest political party in the UK with well over half a million members. We want as many of our members and supporters to take part, so it has been designed to be open, fair and democratic."
Nominations will open on Tuesday 7 January and close on Monday 13 January.
Registered supporters will have 48 hours, between 5pm on 14 January and the same time on 16 January, to pay the £25 to vote.
There will be a freeze on new party members and affiliated supporters at 5pm on 20 January.
The ballot will open and voting will take place from 21 February, and close on 2 April, with a special conference held two days later to announce the result.
So far, the MPs who have confirmed they are running for the leadership include Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis.
There is speculation that Rebecca Long-Bailey will run and Ian Lavery has suggested he might throw his hat in the ring.
However former deputy leader Tom Watson suggested Ms Long-Bailey would not win an election and called her a "continuity candidate".
He told Sky News: "I don’t know who I’m going to vote for and there’s one or two I’d be worried about.
"I guess the one I would worry about – but I don’t know what she stands for – when I look at Rebecca Long-Bailey, she’s the continuity candidate, she stands for Corbynism in its purest sense.
"That’s perfectly legitimate but we have lost two elections in that play."
The rules announcement comes after dozens of members signed an open letter to the NEC asking that it becomes easier for members to hold those on the committee to account and calling for greater transparency.
The letter, signed by former Momentum leader Laura Parker as well as ex-BBC journalist Paul Mason, asked for minutes from NEC meetings to be published, and suggested holding Facebook Lives and travelling around the country for meetings with members.
Analysis by Jon Craig, chief political correspondent
And they’re off! The result of the Labour leadership election will be announced at a special conference on Grand National Day, Saturday 4 April.
The early front runner and odds on favourite with the bookmakers is Sir Keir Starmer. But another fancied runner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, appears to be struggling to get out of the stalls.
At the same time as Labour’s ruling national executive was drawing up the election timetable, a senior source loyal to Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News the Long-Bailey camp was "panicking that they haven’t got enough support".
Another source, admittedly a supporter of a rival candidate, told Sky News: "I hear Wrong Daily’s campaign is in chaos."
At the launch of her campaign for deputy leader, Angela Rayner was challenged on claims by some Labour MPs that she and not her close friend and flatmate Ms Long-Bailey should be standing for leader.
It was no secret that they’re good friends, she said, and she wasn’t going to stand against her. But her confident and relaxed demeanour at her launch and the fact that her friend’s campaign is clearly faltering will reinforce the view of those who believe that Ms Rayner and not Ms Long-Bailey would be the better candidate for leader.
<div><img style=”vertical-align: middle;” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/skynews.png” alt=”Sky News” />(c) Sky News 2020: Labour agrees timetable for new leader to be in place</div>