UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn fights off court challenge on leadership ballot


Labour leader (AFP photo)

A UK court has blocked a challenge to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s right to stand for re-election, guaranteeing him a ballot in the upcoming vote.
The case was filed by donor and former parliament candidate Michael Foster, who accused the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) of manipulating the rules in favor of Corbyn by allowing him to run for re-election without having to secure nominations from 50 Labour MPs and MEPs.
“The judge accepted that the decision of the NEC was correct and that Mr Corbyn was entitled to be a candidate in the forthcoming election without the need for nominations,” the court’s ruling read.
Corbyn, who did not appear in the court at the time of the ruling, called the case a “waste of time and resources when our party should have been holding the government to account.”
His sole challenger, former BBC producer Owen Smith, who had to appeal to at least 20 percent of MPs and MEPs before getting his name on the ballot, was also pleased with the decision.
“This now puts to bed any questions about the process, so we can get on with discussing the issues that really matter,” he added, saying he was eager to debate his rival “as often as possible about our plans for Labour’s future.”
The two candidates have until September 21 to appeal to voters and party members. The results will be announced in a Liverpool conference three days later.
The opposition leader’s opponents challenged his leadership for what they call inadequate efforts to keep the UK in the European Union (EU).
Nearly 52 percent of British voters made it clear in a referendum on June 23 that they wanted their country out of the bloc. Corbyn was a fierce opponent of the decision and vouched for a stronger UK role in the EU instead.
Although Corbyn enjoys far greater support among party members, a ruling against him would have left him with a difficult challenge to gather enough support among MPs for nomination, as last month he lost a confidence vote 172-40.

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