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They’re off! Grand finish to Labour’s leader race

THE new leader of the Labour Party will be announced on April 4 — the same day as the Grand National.

The timetable for the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn was agreed yesterday at a meeting of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee with a postal ballot of members running from February 21 to April 2.

‘We want as many of our members and supporters to take part, so it has been designed to be open, fair and democratic,’ a spokeswoman said.

Candidates need to secure the nominations of least ten per cent — or 22 — of the party’s MPs and MEPs. They must then get the nominations of five per cent of all constituency Labour parties or three Labour affiliates — of which at least two must be trade unions.

New members wanting to take part in the postal ballot have until January 20 to join. As in 2016, people can become a registered supporter for £25. Applications to register open at 5pm next Tuesday and close at 5pm two days later.

Frontbenchers Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis, and backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy, have said they are standing. Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey — a favourite of the left — is also expected to run. But former deputy leader Tom Watson told Sky News he ‘worried’ Ms Long-Bailey ‘sort of stands for Corbynism in its purest sense and that’s perfectly legitimate but we have lost two elections with that play’.

Yvette Cooper — who came third in the 2015 contest — has confirmed she is not standing, but shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan is expected to announce her candidacy for deputy.

■ ANGELA RAYNER (pictured top) warned Labour must ‘win or die’ as she launched her bid for the deputy leadership. The shadow education secretary said the party faced ‘the fight of our lives’ at an event on the Stockport estate where she grew up. She also told of feeling ashamed of her roots, recalling one parliamentary writer joking she had ‘got lost from the set of Little Britain’. She added: ‘I know the place I came from. It’s here. Not Little Britain. Real Britain.’