Almost 600,000 members of Britain’s main opposition Labour party began voting yesterday for a new leader to replace leftist Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of a devastating election defeat.
Three candidates — all members of parliament — are on the ballot paper, with the final result due to be announced on April 4.
The party is also choosing a new deputy leader, following Tom Watson’s resignation in December.
Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer is currently the frontrunner, viewed as more moderate than his main rival, Corbyn ally and business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey.
The third candidate, Lisa Nandy, is well-regarded in Westminster but has a low public profile.
Speaking at a members’ hustings in Durham on Sunday, all three leadership candidates pledged to offer their rivals shadow cabinet posts if they are successful, and said they would happily serve in the winner’s top team
Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015 in a shock result, after a political career spent on the sidelines of a party where few MPs share his staunch socialist views.
Now 70, he drew an enthusiastic following among young people but was forced to step down after a second general election defeat in December.
Labour suffered its worst result since 1935 while Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson triumphed with his promise — since delivered — to get Britain out of the European Union.
There had been more candidates to succeed Corbyn but only three reached the required threshold of support from fellow MPs, trade unions and local Labour associations.
It is now up to the membership to decide. Postal and e-mail ballots were sent out yesterday.
There were more than 580,000 Labour party members after the election and more people are believed to have signed up since.
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