Labour is set to give its MPs the automatic right to contest their existing seats in the upcoming general election without need for “re-selection” by members before they can stand, The Independent understands.
The party’s ruling executive is expected to waive requirements for “trigger ballots” with the blessing of Jeremy Corbyn – avoiding a potential scrap between the Parliamentary Labour Party and Mr Corbyn’s office weeks ahead of the general election.
The decision comes after a discussion at the top of the party about whether members should get a say about re-selecting its candidates for Theresa May’s snap election.
In ordinary circumstances Labour’s rulebook requires MPs to be re-selected by so-called “trigger ballots” – a vote of local party members and affiliates in the constituency.
However it is understood that given the short notice ahead of the election Mr Corbyn’s office has agreed that MPs should be automatically re-selected and that the focus should be on fighting the general election.
Sources say National Executive Committee officers today unanimously approved plans for automatic re-selection and the whole NEC is expected to back the plan tomorrow with the support of the leadership.
Local Labour parties would have had until a 3 May cut-off to hold trigger ballots on whether to re-select their MPs – the date the Royal proclamation for the June 8 election will by law be issued. After such a proclamation, Labour’s rules say sitting MPs should automatically be adopted as candidates anyway.
On Tuesday evening close Corbyn ally Diane Abbott dismissed the idea that the leader had been seeking trigger ballots as “a rumour”, telling Channel 4 News: “Sitting Members of Parliament will be nodded through.”
On selections, Labour’s rulebook states: “If the sitting MP wishes to stand for re-election, a trigger ballot will be carried out through Party units and affiliates according to NEC guidelines.
“If the MP wins the trigger ballot he/ she will, subject to NEC endorsement, be selected as the CLP’s prospective parliamentary candidate.
“If the MP fails to win the trigger ballot, he/ she shall be eligible for nomination for selection as the prospective parliamentary candidate, and s/he shall be included in the shortlist of candidates from whom the selection shall be made.”
Labour faces an uphill struggle in the coming general election with polls show the Conservatives at least 20 points ahead. At least two Labour MPs have said they will not contest their seats again.