UK Politics

Labour leadership: Corbyn calls for voting rules change

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn told a rally in Milton Keynes Labour's new members could sweep the party to power

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for the party to consider its rules and ensure all members can vote in future leadership contests.

He described Friday's Court of Appeal ruling - which excluded 130,000 new members from voting in the party's leadership contest - as "very sad".

He also told critics to "get on board" and "take the fight to the Tories".

But rival leadership contender Owen Smith said Labour was in crisis and warned it could "disappear overnight".

Incumbent Mr Corbyn and challenger Mr Smith are competing to become the next Labour leader - a contest sparked after Mr Corbyn lost a vote of no confidence by his MPs and faced mass resignations from his top team.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled the party was within its rights to stop new members voting in the contest.

The ruling backed up the decision in July of the National Executive Committee - the body that governs the Labour Party - that full members could only vote if they had at least six months' continuous membership.

That was later successfully challenged by some new members in the High Court, before the recent reverse ruling by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal decision effectively reintroduced a voting ban on nearly 130,000 members.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC the court had "denied those members a vote in this election, which I think is very sad".

He said he believed there was no prospect of a fresh legal challenge, adding: "After all this is over we have got to look at those rules to make sure everyone gets a right to a democratic vote."

'Energy and ideas'

He told a rally in Milton Keynes that the power of Labour's 500,000-strong membership can sweep the party to victory at the next general election.

He said the leadership election was about "how we enthuse, excite and mobilise people to win things in their community and ultimately win things for all communities".

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said Mr Corbyn had made an "appeal for unity" in his speech, urging those who disagreed with him to "take the fight to the Tories".

With 300,000 members having joined in the last year, Mr Corbyn said Labour was a "strong party" and could win a general election, our correspondent added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Owen Smith warned Labour could "disappear overnight"

Meanwhile, Mr Smith told supporters that political parties took "a long, long time to rise, but history tells us they can disappear very, very quickly - they can disappear overnight".

"And right now it feels to me as though we are needed as never before."

He said the party had "a duty" to fight to keep the UK within the European Union (EU) and "to see what is the reality of the Brexit negotiations", adding: "Because it will not be as was promised.

"It will not be a simple set of trade deals, it will not be an end to immigration, it will not be more money for public services - none of those things will come to pass.

"And at the end of this we should have the courage to say to the British people, if it isn't what you wanted then we would put it back to you - either as a second referendum or at a general election."

Mr Smith added that Friday's Court of Appeal ruling "doesn't change my approach to this contest", saying he would continue to make his case as to why he should become Labour's new leader.

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