London: The two lawmakers seeking to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Britain’s main opposition party say it’s better if just one of them competes against him.
Labour Party members Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are to lay out their visions on Monday, when they are due to appear before the Parliamentary Labour Party. While Corbyn has been urged to resign after losing a vote of no confidence, he has insisted he retains the support of the party’s rank-and-file, extending the chaos that has engulfed the party since Britain’s vote last month to leave the European Union.
While more than 60 lawmakers have quit Corbyn’s front-bench team, he gets an automatic place on the ballot for the post. Commentators suggest that one challenger may be more likely to defeat him, meaning either Smith or Eagle -- Corbyn’s former business spokeswoman who triggered the contest -- should back down or be removed from the ballot by the party.
Speaking to the BBC Sunday, Smith said that "one of us standing would be better” and that "whoever the person is who commands the largest degree of support” among parliamentary members "is the unity candidate, and that’s the person who should go forward and take Jeremy on.”
Responding to whether it would be preferable to have only one candidate, Eagle said, "I think we need to have the person that’s most likely to beat Jeremy Corbyn, and I think that’s me.”
Labour Party members who joined before January 12 qualify to vote in the leadership contest. Registering to cast a ballot will cost £25 ($33), up from the £3 levy charged when Corbyn was elected last year.
Speaking in a separate interview with the BBC, Corbyn said he hopes party officials change those rules. "It seems to me that a £25 bar is quite high and not really reasonable,” he said, and the fact that people who joined the party in the last six months are ineligible to vote is "simply not very fair.”
Nominations will close August 15, ballots will be mailed to members August 22. Voting ends a month later, with results announced September 24.