Keir Starmer has agreed to resign if he is fined by police for violating lockdown rules.
The Labor leader is under investigation for a meeting in Durham in April 2021, where he was photographed drinking a beer.
At the time, the ban on indoor mixing between households was still in effect. But there was an exemption for “work purposes.”
Starmer has denied any wrongdoing, as he simply “stopped for a bite to eat” during the workday.
But if he ends up quitting, what happens next? To put it bluntly, Labor would need a new leader.
Labor Leadership Rules
If a Labor leader resigns, a contest is automatically activated for his replacement.
Under party rules approved at the last Labor conference, candidates need the support of 20% of Labor MPs to get on the ballot.
There are 199 Labor MPs, which means candidates need 39 to nominate them.
Starmer had initially proposed an even more radical change to the rules that included a threshold of 25% support from MPs.
But he was forced to water down his proposals amid opposition from the left and the unions.
Previously, even when Starmer was elected leader, candidates only needed 10% of the MPs.
Raising the threshold was seen as a move by Starmer’s allies to prevent left-wing MPs from appearing on the ballot again following the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
As well as gaining the support of 20% of MPs, candidates must be nominated by at least 5% of the constituency Labor Parties (CLPs). either at least three affiliates (two of which must be unions).
Labor affiliated groups include Labor Women’s Network, LGBT Labor, and BAME Labor. Unions include GMB, Unison and Unite.
For example, in the 2020 leadership contest, Starmer was nominated by the Usdaw and Unison unions and the affiliated environmental campaign group Sera.
Candidates that make it to the ballot then go to a vote of party members, on a one member, one vote basis.
Under rule changes agreed to last year, members must now also be registered for six months in order to vote in leadership contests.
The “registered supporters” scheme that allowed non-members to pay £25 to vote in the 2020 contest has also been scrapped.
In 2015, when Corbyn won the leadership, people could pay just £3 to vote.
The system was generally seen as giving Corbyn an advantage, as non-members signed up to help him gain the lead.
Who are the candidates?
Lisa Nandythe secretary who levels up in the shadows, will probably be seen as the favorite in any contest.
Having applied in 2020, he told The House magazine last year: “I have no intention of ever going through that again.” But on Sunday he refused to rule out throwing his hat in the ring if Starmer quits.
Angela Reyner, the party’s deputy leader, might also want a leadership tilt. She decided not to run in 2020 and instead run for MP, she supported Starmer’s left-wing rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in the leadership race.
But Rayner was also present at the Durham event and if she is fined for breaking the rules, like Starmer, she has vowed to resign, which would likely rule her out.
Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, is also a likely candidate. The 39-year-old has had a rapid rise under Starmer and it is hoped that he will one day run for the leader.
yvette cooper, the shadow home secretary, ran for the leadership in 2015. She served in Gordon Brown’s cabinet as secretary for work and pensions. In opposition, she chaired the internal affairs committee before returning to the Starmer front in November last year.
david lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, is also a potential candidate. He has been a Tottenham MP since 2000 and held various ministerial posts during the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Bridget PhilipsonThere is talk of , the shadow education secretary, as a future leader. The 38-year-old has been MP for Houghton and Sunderland South since 2010 and her election as leader would mark a new generation.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, has made no secret of his desire to one day be leader of the party. After losing to Corbyn in the 2015 contest, Burnham resigned from parliament to run for mayor. Although he is popular in the party, it is unlikely that he will be able to present a challenge, since the candidates must be MPs.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is also seen as a candidate for leadership. But, like Burnham, he is not currently an MP and, barring a very convenient by-election in which he could stand, he would not be eligible.