Court could be about to throw a spanner in the works for Corbyn's Labour dreams

Hayley Kirton
Follow Hayley
Jeremy Corbyn Faces His Second Prime Ministers Questions
Watch out Corbyn: The legal eagles might have a nasty surprise for you (Source: Getty)

The fate of Jeremy Corbyn's somewhat controversial battle to stay leader of the Labour party rests on a knife edge, as the high court is due to hand down judgment in a case on the matter later on today.

If the case does not go in Corbyn's favour, the Labour party may have to backtrack to its nomination process.

Labour's National Executive Committee decided earlier this month that, as the incumbent Labour leader, Corbyn was not required to get the backing of a fifth of his party's MPs and MEPs for his name to appear on the ballot for the race for the top spot.

However, Labour party donor Michael Foster has launched a legal challenge to this decision. On Tuesday, Foster's legal team argued the rules governing Labour's leadership bids could not be read in a manner which meant different requirements applied to the current leader than to his or her challengers.

Read more: Corbyn "delighted" Smith has echoed McDonnell with campaign pitch

Gavin Millar QC proposed that, if the drafters had intended such a distinction to exist, they would have made it more explicit in the wording.

In a strange but true set of circumstances, Corbyn himself was not listed as a defendant in the case until the last minute. He was added as a second defendant after the high court decided his legal interests were significantly different to those of Labour party general secretary Iain McNicol, the first defendant.

Representing McNicol, Mark Henderson contended it was only logical the rules should be read as to give the current leader the chance to run without backing.

Without this implied wording, Henderson said, the Labour party could find itself in an odd position, where an uncontested challenger automatically becomes leader without members being given a chance to vote.

Read more: Labour councillors back Smith, but many believe members support Corbyn

The judgment is due to be delivered this afternoon in London's high court.

At present, the Labour leadership ballot is occupied by Owen Smith and Corbyn, after Angela Eagle, despite being the original challenger, withdrew from the race.

Related articles