Keir Starmer the front-runner to replace Jeremy Corbyn says poll

Sir Keir Starmer is the clear front-runner for the Labour leadership contest, according to a new poll - despite not having declared whether he will stand.
A poll suggests the majority of Labour party members want Keir Starmer to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.A poll suggests the majority of Labour party members want Keir Starmer to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
A poll suggests the majority of Labour party members want Keir Starmer to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

A YouGov survey of Labour members in today's Guardian puts the party's shadow Brexit secretary in the lead on 61 per cent beating Jeremy Corbyn's ally Rebecca Long Bailey, who has said she is considering a leadership bid, who scored just 39 per cent.

The election process will be launched next week, with the new leader taking over in March following Labour's worst election performance since 1935, under Jeremy Corbyn.

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The third most popular choice among those surveyed was outspoken Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, who has also not said whether she will stand.

Prof Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London, who jointly ran the poll with the University of Sussex, told The Guardian: "This is not shaping up to be a 2015-style Labour leadership contest.

"Unless potential candidates drop out before the start of voting, it may take a few rounds to decide the winner this time around. But it doesn't look at the moment as if the winner will come from the left of the party. Right now anyway, Keir Starmer looks to be heading for a fairly emphatic victory."

At present only shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, and the shadow treasury minister, Clive Lewis, have formally announced they will stand for the party leadership. Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and party chairman Ian Lavery, are also believed to be considering entering the contest.

Today on the BBC, former Chancellor Ed Balls, refused to confirm or deny whether his wife, Commons Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper, would stand. She lost to Corbyn in the 2015 leadership race.

The poll of 1059 Labour party members put Sir Keir on 31 per cent for first choice votes, while 20 per cent backed Ms Long Bailey, Ms Phillips received 11 per cent, and Mr Lewis and Ms Cooper were the first choice for seven per cent. Ms Thornberry was on six per cent and Ms Nandy was backed by five per cent as first choice.

With less popular candidates eliminated, a final run-off would see Sir Keir beat Ms Long Bailey in the last round, 61 per cent to 39 per cent, according to the survey.

Brexit could have an impact on the result as Ms Long Bailey is rated first choice by 19 per cent of Labour members who voted Remain, but scores 31 per cent of those who voted Leave.Sir Keir is backed as first choice by 34 per cent of Remainers in the survey, but only supported by 17 per cent of Leavers.

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Yesterday leadership contender Clive Lewis issued a plea for unity in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn and said the party faces an "existential crisis".

The shadow treasury minister said when you were "on a cliff-edge" it was better to work with the people "dangling with you", rather than attack them. His comments came in Twitter remarks after media outlets contacted him for his views on party chairman Ian Lavery's analysis of why Labour lost so heavily.

Mr Lavery has said Labour lost the general election because of its "Brexit position, infighting, a collapse of industry in our communities and a lack of trust in our ability to deliver."

But Norwich South MP Mr Lewis tweeted: "Whilst I don't agree with everything he's said I do agree with parts of his analysis.

"So perhaps if all we use the coming (Labour leadership) elections as a lens through which to listen to each other, we can work out a path ahead. Because Ian Lavery is correct to say we face an existential crisis as a party.

"As such, when you're hanging by the fingernails on a cliff edge, it's usually not a good time to start fighting with those dangling with you. Far better is to help each other work out the way back up the cliff face."

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, yesterday took to Facebook to accuse Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being a "vicious populist imitator" of US President Donald Trump.

She stated: "I hope in November, our long global nightmare will be over and Donald Trump will be dumped out of office by the American people, and we will finally see the United States resume its role as a global leader on the issues that matter to us all.

"And what's more, Trump's defeat would hopefully turn the tide on his vicious band of so-called 'populist' imitators around the globe, including our current PM."