Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership contest, again


Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as leader of the Labour Party in the UK.

Mr Corbyn polled 313,209 votes in the Labour leadership election to Owen Smith’s 193,229 votes.

In his victory speech, he thanked voters for their “trust and support” and told defeated challenger Owen Smith they were “part of the same Labour family”.

He added: “In our party we have much more in common than that which divides us.”

However, Mr Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader is unlikely to draw a line under the unrest within the party’s ranks of MPs.

Despite the renewed mandate from the party’s grassroots, it was less than three months ago that 172 Labour MPs voted to say they had no confidence in his leadership, and few are likely to have changed their mind during the bitter leadership contest.

Allies of Mr Corbyn hope that many of the senior MPs who resigned frontbench roles in protest at his leadership will return to bolster the party’s ability to oppose the Government in Parliament now that their attempts to unseating him have failed.

Although some of his critics have already said they will remain on the backbenches – including defeated leadership rival Owen Smith – the return of others could depend on whether elections to the shadow cabinet are restored.

The resignation of dozens of frontbenchers in June left Mr Corbyn unable to fill all his shadow ministerial posts, and reports have suggested that as many as 14 may be ready to return.

But others, including Hilary Benn, Yvette Cooper and Chuka Umunna are thought likely to focus on their bids to secure the chairs of influential parliamentary committees, which will allow them to take prominent roles scrutinising Theresa May’s Government from outside Mr Corbyn’s camp.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who remained neutral in the leadership race, has set his sights on a career outside Westminster as Labour’s candidate for the Greater Manchester mayoralty, while Steve Rotheram is pursuing the equivalent role in Liverpool.

If elections by MPs to the shadow cabinet are restored, they could give centrist candidates a mandate to join Mr Corbyn’s top team and attempt to shape his agenda.

But the party’s ruling National Executive Committee has so far failed to agree on a way forward, despite the Parliamentary Labour Party’s support for the move.

With a renewed mandate, Mr Corbyn could set about trying to strengthen his grip on the party machinery – reports have suggested his allies want a “purge” of perceived opponents at Labour HQ, with general secretary Iain McNicol thought to be in the firing line.

But Mr Corbyn has insisted that the party has a “duty to unite” following the leadership struggle, and has promised to offer an olive branch to his critics.

Labour MPs and supporters who cannot be reconciled with Mr Corbyn have been wooed by the Liberal Democrats, with Tim Farron insisting only his party can oppose the Tories.

But it would appear unlikely that many in the Labour ranks will switch sides to a party with just eight MPs which until last year was in coalition with the Conservatives.

Instead, Mr Corbyn’s opponents face a series of stark choices – including splitting Labour in two, or launching another attempt to oust the leader.

The possibility of a breakaway group, as happened when the “gang of four” formed the Social Democratic Party in the early 1980s, would be the nuclear option – leading to rows about funding and the potential splitting of the Labour vote in key seats.

Perhaps more likely is Labour moderates biding their time in the hope Mr Corbyn’s appeal within the party’s grassroots wanes.

A bad series of election results in local contests in England, Wales and Scotland in May 2017 could be the trigger for another leadership contest.

Whatever happens, Mr Corbyn’s next few months as leader are likely to be as turbulent as his last 12.