The veteran left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn will declare his candidacy for the Labour leadership contest.
Supporters of Mr Corbyn, who will stand on a platform of opposing cuts to public services, said they were optimistic he could collect the 35 nominations he needs to get on the ballot paper.
Mr Corbyn, who has been MP for Islington North, decided to put his name forward following discussions with allies. He has said it was “essential that there is a left, anti-austerity candidate in the leadership election”.
Meanwhile, the party is split over how strongly it should campaign in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union in the referendum to be called by David Cameron.
Some northern Labour MPs, many of whom saw Ukip come second in their seats in last month’s election, want Labour to adopt a low profile in the referendum campaign so that it does not help boost Ukip’s prospects at the 2020 general election. They say that Labour’s virtual wipe-out in Scotland by the Scottish National Party was partly due to the party joining forces with the Conservatives in the Better Together campaign during last autumn’s referendum on Scottish independence.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Andy Burnham, one of the candidates to become Labour leader, said the party would “learn the lessons” of the Scottish referendum, adding: “It is my intention for us to have a separate ‘Labour Yes’ campaign.”
However, Labour’s pro-Europeans are worried that a separate drive by the party could weaken the cross-party umbrella campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
Pat McFadden, the shadow Europe minister, said: “It would be a huge mistake for Labour to consign itself to irrelevance on the critical issue of the country’s future membership of the EU.”
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