Victory for Corbyn: UK High Court rules Labour leader is automatically entitled to ballot spot

Attempt to force Jeremy Corbyn to collect MP signatures for leadership contest is defeated

jeremy corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn arrives to launch his Labour leadership campaign in London last week | Photo: PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn is entitled to be on the UK Labour leadership ballot without the support of MPs, Britain's High Court has ruled.

The court ruled Mr Corbyn did not need to find the support of 51 of his MPs or MEPs to take part in a leadership battle - unlike those who sought to challenge him.

The Labour leader welcomed the decision saying the case, brought by party donor Michael Foster, was a "waste of time and resources".

The case focused on the party rules governing a leadership challenge and the decision may by the party's ruling body, the national executive committee (NEC), earlier this month if that Mr Corbyn did not have to find the backing of MPs - unlike his challengers.

Mr Foster had claimed the rules were "misapplied" and that Mr Corbyn should not be on the leadership ballot.

But in his ruling, the judge said the NEC had reached the correct legal conclusion.

He said: "It is quite obvious that one side will be pleased with the outcome of the case and the other side will not.

"Doubtless the dichotomy of view on the outcome will reflect the well-publicised divisions that exist within the Labour Party.

"I repeat as firmly and unequivocally as I can that the resolution of the narrow legal issue I have been asked to decide is wholly uninfluenced by which side will be pleased with the outcome."

The move was seen as an attempt to oust Mr Corbyn by effectively blocking him from running in the contest, leaving his challenger, Owen Smith, unopposed. 

Warring factions

It is the latest chapter in a protracted civil war in the Labour Party that has seen increasingly bitter recriminations between the warring factions.

While Mr Corbyn enjoys massive support among Labour members, the same is not true among most MPs. 

Earlier this month, he lost a Parliamentary Labour Party vote of no confidence by 172 votes to 40, indicating he would have struggled to find the 51 members to back him.

Mr Corbyn said: "I welcome the decision by the High Court to respect the democracy of the Labour Party.

"This has been a waste of time and resources when our party should be focused on holding the Government to account.

"There should have been no question of the right of half a million Labour Party members to choose their own leader being overturned. If anything, the aim should be to expand the number of voters in this election."

Mr Smith said: "I'm pleased the court has done the right thing and ruled that Jeremy should be on the ballot.  

"This now puts to bed any questions about the process, so we can get on with discussing the issues that really matter.

The results of the leadership contest will be announced on September 24th at the start of the party's conference.