Elections are often emotionally draining and while they’re going on it can be hard to see past them. Now it's over, everything’s changing within the Labour party. Who could be the next Labour leader? Jeremy Corbyn has announced he’ll step down as leader of the party after Labour's defeat and the leadership competition has been opened right up.
For so many people, the election was massively stressful, especially just before the Christmas holidays. With Brexit, the NHS, and so much more being debated, it was hard-fought. However, for Labour Party members another big vote is afoot. Bookies and political pundits have already started to speculate on who will take on the job of party leader once Corbyn steps aside. It’d seem expertise in the Brexit process are in high demand and there’s a lot of women’s names on the bill. MPs have said the next leader will have to reunite the party under one message and win voters back after the election. No small task considering the election outcome.
Emily Thornberry is one of the most recognisable MPs in the party. The Telegraph reports that the shadow foreign secretary and MP for Islington South and Finsbury said after the election result was revealed, “The real fight has to begin now. We will fight with the same courage my friend Jeremy showed.” Some saw this as a hint that she’d be running for leadership. She, too, has alliances with the left wing of the party and voted remain. However, The Telegraph said that Labour insiders think she might struggle to get enough nominations for leadership.
While Labour suffered defeat at the election Lisa Nandy is one MP who came out on top. In a piece for The Guardian, she expressed that she thought a lot of the policies in the Labour manifesto were good but the fact that people liked Boris Johnson as a person got him the votes. The MP for Wigan resigned as shadow energy secretary in 2016 over the how the EU referendum was being dealt. The Guardian said she may not have the support of MPs who back Corbyn.
Jess Phillips is another MP who has risen to prominence over the last couple of years. The MP for Birmingham Yardley has earned a lot of support for her campaigns for equality and tackling violence against women. She’s been very critical of Corbyn’s leadership and in wrote in a piece for The Observer, “Belief matters, and we failed the test - that is an existential problem for the party that is named for working people."
Dawn Butler is the shadow women and equalities secretary and MP for Brent Central. She was the first candidate to announce that she would run to replace former Deputy Leader of the Party Tom Watson after he left office in November. A loyal backer of Corbyn, she told Bloomberg, “I’ve thought very carefully about who should replace Tom and after giving it some thought I will be throwing my hat in the ring.” However, The Telegraph has said that she may consider running for the top job instead.
If Yvette Cooper was to run for the Labour leadership, it wouldn’t be the first time. The MP for Normanton, Pontefract, and Castleford has sat in Parliament for almost a decade and ran against Corbyn in 2015. She’s considered to be a centrist, which may work against her when it comes to get votes from Labour Party members. The Telegraph said she’s been called the “real leader of the opposition” by some in Westminster following Brexit debates against Theresa May.
Angela Rayner has won a lot of public support as well as favour in Westminster since the 2016 referendum. She’s used her position as secretary of state for education to speak out about bullying and sexism within the Labour Party while remaining loyal to Corbyn. Her politics align pretty close to his, and The Telegraph said that she’s the candidate who’s most likely to get support from the unions. She spoke at the 2019 Labour Party conference about nationalising private schools, which generally had a positive response on social media and within the party.
If there’s one person who has been at the centre of Brexit negotiations for the Labour Party over the last few years, it’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer. The MP for Holborn and St Pancras has been placed high on bookies lists as likely to run due to his expertise in the Brexit negotiations. However, as a lot of people have blamed Labour's stance on Brexit as being one of the reasons the general election went so badly, it may not work in his favour. Sky also reports that “the mood within the party for the next leader to be a woman from outside the capital” could hinder his chances.
A GQ article released in 2018 on the mayor of London said, “perhaps not today – nor even before the next election – but for Britain’s most patient politician, the keys to No.10 are waiting.” It also described him as “poised to sidestep the internecine struggles and lead his party’s return from the shadows.” As he hasn’t sat in the cabinet, Khan is free from criticism around how the last Labour government conducted itself. He’s also had a history of clashing with Corbyn.
While the general election was a political nightmare before Christmas for many Labour MPs and supporters, it’s time to look at how the party's next chapter will unfold.
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