Labour has “plenty” of potential leaders waiting in the wings, “if and when” Jeremy Corbyn chooses to stand down, the party’s new election coordinator has said.
Ian Lavery said polling on shadow cabinet members was carried out in Manchester ahead of the upcoming mayoral election and such research was not “uncommon”.
Rising party stars including Angela Rayner and Rebecca Long-Bailey were said to have been assessed for popularity as part of internal “succession planning”, according to The Sunday Times.
Mr Lavery told the Pienaar’s Politics programme on BBC Radio 5 live: “The reality about polls is that it’s not uncommon for any political party to conduct these political polls in order to establish a clear reasoning, understand the various different views in a particular point in time.
“There’s plenty of leaders to pick from if and when Jeremy decides, of his own volition, that it’s not for him at the election. That isn’t the case at this point in time.”
The Wansbeck MP said he was “pretty confident” Labour could hold its seats in Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central later this month, but strategy would be reviewed if there were any “hiccups”.
Earlier, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson urged Mr Corbyn to improve his popularity ratings.
The Sunday Times also suggested leaked documents gave a scathing assessment of the embattled Labour leader, who was found to be “boring” and “fed up” by focus groups.
When asked about a recent YouGov poll that suggested Mr Corbyn’s favourability ratings were plummeting, Mr Watson added: “This is not the time for a leadership election. He got a second mandate from our members last year, he is now the established leader of the Labour Party.
“He has to explain those and he has to improve on them and he’s well aware of that.”
BETTING ON LABOUR’S NEXT PERMANENT LEADER, FROM BOOKMAKER PADDYPOWER
Clive Lewis 10/3
Keir Starmer 4/1
Rebecca Long Bailey 10/1
John McDonnell 14/1
Dan Jarvis 14/1
Tom Watson 16/1
Lisa Nandy 16/1
David Miliband 18/1
Chuka Umunna 18/1
Hilary Benn 18/1
Andy Burnham 20/1
Emily Thornberry 25/1