FIVE candidates will battle it out to become the next Labour leader after a dramatic late show of support saw Emily Thornberry scrape through to the next stage of the contest.
The shadow foreign secretary was short of the 22 nominations required to make it through to the last stage until shortly before the 2.30pm deadline, but finally managed to secure 23.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer led the way with 89 nominations, while Rebecca Long-Bailey had 33, Lisa Nandy 31 and Jess Phillips 23.
Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis abandoned his own leadership bid this afternoon after acknowledging he stood no chance of making the next round, giving his supporters time to back other candidates.
The candidates to replace Jeremy Corbyn will take part in a series of hustings starting on January 18 — although the party has been criticised by some contenders for ignoring parts of the country where Labour support crumbled at the General Election.
Sir Keir said he was ‘disappointed’ debates would not be held in the south-east, east of England or Yorkshire, where Labour lost several key seats.
Ms Nandy said Labour had lost seats in Bolsover, Wrexham and Stoke and ‘the failure to debate the future of our party in communities like these shows that we are part of the problem’.
Hustings for the leader and deputy leader elections kick off in Liverpool, with events planned each weekend in cities including Durham, Bristol, Cardiff, Nottingham, Glasgow and London.
There will also be hustings in the West Midlands and Bedford.
In the race for deputy leader, which is running in parallel with the contest for the top job, three more candidates successfully went through today.
Rosena Allin-Khan, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler reached the magic number of 22 with only hours to spare before the deadline.
They join shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and Ian Murray in progressing to the next round.
Candidates in both races now need to get the nominations of 33 local constituency parties or three Labour affiliates, including at least two trade unions, to enter the final postal ballot of party members and registered supporters.
Over the weekend, the left-wing activist group Momentum, which helped propel Mr Corbyn to the leadership in 2015, said it was recommending support for Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Rayner.