The new Labour Party leader is to be announced this Saturday after longer than a month and a half of voting among party members. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer is expected to emerge the winner after facing off with shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy. But former Downing Street adviser Nick Timothy warned Labour will face a huge struggle in winning back voters no matter who is proclaimed their next leader.
Speaking to ITV’s Robert Peston, Mr Timothy said: “Whoever is leader of the Labour Party will find it difficult to bring together the voters that they have retained who are the new core voters for Labour – public sector workers, urban voters, university towns – and the white working classes that they’ve lost in the regions and in Scotland and Wales.
“Those are big structural problems for Labour and I think it will be difficult for any individual to put that right quickly.”
The former adviser claimed Lisa Nandy was so far the only candidate who had shown an attempt to listen to voters lost since 2016.
He continued: “I think Lisa is the most interesting of the three candidates in the Labour leadership campaign to date.
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“She’s at least shown an interest in trying to get the Labour Party to listen to the voters they’ve lost in the period between the Brexit referendum and the General Election in December.
“Keir Starmer is a competent and intelligent person.”
Voting for the challenge is due to end on April 2, with the results set to be announced on Saturday.
Alongside the new leader, a new deputy leader is also due to be announced because of Tom Watson’s early departure from the job in December.
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Rebecca Long-Bailey confirmed all candidates had been asked to record a victory message so the video could be shared with voters as quickly as possible after the results are announced.
She told Sky News: “I think it’s trying to deal with these strange times and have an announcement on the leadership contest so that our members and the public can view from their homes really.
“It’s logistically quite challenging and I think we’ve all been asked to do this victory speech so that it can be sent out over the airwaves as quickly as possible after we win.”
The latest poll produced by YouGov showed Keir Starmer, who ran on a unity platform in the three-month-long contest, in the lead over Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Nandy.
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Hustings had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak and the conference scheduled to announce the winner of the contest also had to be pulled.
Jeremy Corbyn triggered the contest in December after announcing he would step down following Labour’s disastrous performance in the General Election.
Labour lost more than 50 seats, including some traditional constituencies in northern heartlands that turned for the first time to the Conservative Party.
Voters cited continued uncertainty over the party’s stance on Brexit, as well as Mr Corbyn’s leadership, as key reasons pushing them to turn away from the party.
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