Jeremy Corbyn could call for the Labour leadership contest to be put on hold if he loses a crucial court case today and is kicked off the ballot paper.
The party’s decision to allow Corbyn a place in the vote without requiring a fresh round of MP nominations is due to be challenged in the High Court this morning.
Labour donor Michael Foster believes the party has “misapplied” the rules over whether a sitting leader is automatically included on the ballot paper and is expected to argue that his “contract of membership” has been broken.
Corbyn’s camp are confident the case will be kicked out quickly and are convinced the leader does not need the backing of 51 MPs and MEPs, which could prove very difficult to obtain.
The row broke out after Corbyn achieved a major victory when Labour’s ruling body, the national executive committee (NEC), decided at a marathon meeting this month that the leader would be given a place on the ballot paper.
Foster, a former Labour parliamentary candidate, will have to persuade judges to get involved in what might be regarded as an internal Labour dispute.
“It is well-established that a member of an association – whether it is a Synagogue, a trade union, a political party or a bowling club – has the right to seek a definitive ruling from the court when a dispute arises about the proper interpretation of an important rule in his or her contract of membership,” Foster wrote in The Times last month.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has called the challenge “unhelpful”.