Voting will begin Monday to decide if veteran leftist Jeremy Corbyn will remain leader of Britain’s Labour party, with an ill-tempered campaign deepening divisions that threaten the party’s future.
Ballots and online voting forms were due to be sent to party members, who will have until September 21 to decide whether to replace Corbyn with MP Owen Smith, previously little know outside Westminster.
The 46-year-old triggered the election by declaring his candidacy last month, warning that Corbyn’s leadership was making the possibility of a split in the party “dangerously real”.
Smith, a former member of Corbyn’s top team, is also targeting voters to the left of the party, promising a “socialist revolution”.
“Not some misty-eyed, romantic notion of a revolution where we are going to overthrow capitalism and return to a socialist nirvana… but a cold-eyed, practical socialist revolution where we build a better Britain,” he said last month.
Corbyn, 67, is favourite to stay as leader, retaining the support of most trade unions and many who signed up last year to propel him to a shock win in the leadership election called following the party’s thrashing in the general election.