Labour to readmit Ken Livingstone within a month

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Ken Livingstone's reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party is now a foregone conclusion and is likely to be settled within a month, say insiders. He is expected to be imposed as the Labour candidate in next year's London mayoral election, replacing Nicky Gavron, who was his deputy until June.

Tony Blair has agreed to bring Mr Livingstone, now Mayor of London, back into the fold after being warned by the majority of Labour MPs in London constituencies and by leading councillors that if Labour were driven into fourth place in the mayoral election it would detract from any success the party had elsewhere in the country in the May council elections.

It is also thought that a failure in the mayoral race could also have a knock-on effect in the capital during the borough elections in 2006.

Len Duvall, chairman of the Labour group in the London Assembly, said: "There's only one conclusion. It's inevitable that Nicky Gavron is not going to be the candidate and that Ken will be back in. A lot of people who were opposed to him before have shifted their position."

Mr Livingstone was expelled from the Labour Party for a minimum of five years for running against the official Labour candidate, then Frank Dobson, in the mayoral election in 2000. His proposed reinstatement is opposed by some senior party figures who warn that he could cause more trouble in the party than out of it given his public quarrel with Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, over the use of private companies to renovate the London Underground.

Brian Sedgemore, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said: "It's about as unprincipled as anything I have ever heard of. Here's a party desperate for a stitch-up to get a bit of glamour on the back of someone who hasn't done much, except for the congestion charge, and who has spent an awful lot of money on god knows what."