ALL Labour’s 230 MPs face a re-selection vote ahead of the next general election, Jeremy Corbyn said as he launched his bid to stay in charge of his party.
The embattled leader demanded the loyalty of Labour MPs, telling them that if he won, it was “the job, the duty, the responsibility” of every elected member to put aside concerns about him and “get behind the party” to oppose the Conservatives.
Mr Corbyn offered the “hand of friendship” to MPs who backed a motion of no-confidence in him, but they were put on notice that a boundary review planned for 2018, cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600, would trigger re-selection races.
His challenger, Owen Smith, criticised the comments. “It doesn’t seem very friendly, kind or gentle to me for Jeremy to threaten everyone who works for him with the sack”, Mr Smith said.
“It’s not much of an employer that says work harder or I’m going to sack you all – which is effectively what he’s doing.”
Asked how he would reconcile with his MPs, Mr Corbyn said the parliamentary party was “part of but not the entirety of the Labour Party and the Labour movement.
Under Labour Party rules, sitting MPs whose constituencies share at least 40 per cent of the territory of redrawn constituencies are guaranteed a place on a shortlist for re-selection.
The influx of 183,000 new supporters in the past week alone, many of whom are assumed to be left-wing Corbyn backers, suggests scores of tough selection battles ahead.
In a sign of the atmosphere within Labour, Angela Eagle, the Labour MP who challenged Mr Corbyn for the leadership, was told by Merseyside Police not to hold open constituency surgeries and instead only meet constituents by appointment due to fears for her safety.
Ballots will be sent to Labour members and supporters in August, with a result announced at the party’s conference in September.