Labour has quietly dropped plans to select candidates for 75 target seats before Christmas.
The ambitious deadline, agreed between Jeremy Corbyn and the ruling national executive committee (NEC), will not be met because of local delays and, in some cases, a shortage of applications.
Corbyn had wanted to get candidates in place following a summer of campaigning. He had said the party would remain in “permanent campaign mode” amid speculation Theresa May’s government could fall after the prime minister squandered the Tories’ majority in the June election.
More than 20 selections have opened – prompting intense battles in places such as Watford, Thurrock and Plymouth Moor View – and a raft of final hustings are scheduled for December but party officials now accept the plan for 75 selections before Christmas will not be realised.
The development had long been suspected and was virtually confirmed by the Huffington Post today.
A spokeswoman for Labour declined to comment.