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The runners and riders in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as the UK's Labour leader

Adam Bienkov , Business Insider US
 Dec 14, 2019, 08:29 AM
Jeremy Corbyn
  • Jeremy Corbyn has announced his plans to stand down as Labour Party leader after a heavy defeat for his party in the UK general election.
  • Corbyn will exit the frontline of British politics after presiding over the worst result for his party in a century.
  • Potential candidates are already lining up to replace him.
  • Here are the runners and riders in the coming race for the Labour leadership.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa's homepage. 

Jeremy Corbyn has announced his plans to resign as Labour Party leader after a historic defeat for his party in the United Kingdom's general election.

The Labour leader said that he would remain in post while the party "reflected" on its future but would not lead them into another election.

The scale of Boris Johnson's victory means that whoever replaces Corbyn will have a huge mountain to climb in order to form a Labour government at the next general election, currently scheduled for 2024.

The leadership race is likely to be bitterly fought between candidates from Corbyn's wing of the party and those on Labour's "soft left".

Here are the likely runners and riders in the race to replace Corbyn.

Sir Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn
The Shadow Brexit Secretary is a rare beast within the Labour Party in that he has maintained the respect of both Corbyn's supporters in the party and his critics. The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Starmer has grown into a formidable figure in the party, thanks to his strong House of Commons performances and keen eye for detail. He was the first choice of Labour members to replace Corbyn in one poll conducted earlier this year.

However, Starmer will be forced to defend his role in forcing Corbyn to take a more anti-Brexit position. Given Labour's hammering in Leave-voting areas in this election, Starmer's position as the most pro-Remain frontline position in the party will not necessarily work in his favour.

Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry
Starmer will face competition on the fervently pro-European wing of the party from the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. Thornberry is another formidable operator who remained part of Corbyn's team despite coming from a very different political tradition to the Labour leader. YouGov's polling suggests that she is in a good position to capitalise on the party's anti-Brexit membership. However, with the campaign against Brexit all but over, this may not prove to be quite the advantage it once appeared.

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey
Long-Bailey has long been groomed by Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to be the heir to the Corbyn project. The Shadow Business Secretary is in a good position to be the left's candidate but is by no means assured of taking that position. There is also a popular school of thought within the party that the next leader ought to be a woman from outside of London, potentially putting Mancunian Long-Bailey at an advantage.

Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner
The same applies to Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who is another another likely contender. Rayner is an engaging politician with strong support within the party membership. Whether or not she would stand against Long-Bailey, or whether one of the two would choose to step aside so as not to split the left vote, remains to be seen.

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips
Phillips has become a well-known political figure in recent years despite not serving in the shadow cabinet and is reportedly considering a run for leader. Her outspoken views and regular appearances in the broadcast and print media has gained her a lot of support among those in the party who have been critical of Corbyn's leadership. She is something of a marmite figure within the party membership and would probably struggle to gain the sort of support she would need to become a viable candidate should she choose to tun.

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