The countdown has begun in the Labour leadership contest to find a replacement for Jeremy Corbyn who announced he would step down in the wake of his party’s dismal defeat at the general election in December.

Clive Lewis and Jess Phillips quit the race in January and a month later shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry failed to secure enough nominations, which left just three candidates fighting it out in the final ballot – Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca-Long Bailey and Lisa Nandy.

Full party members, affiliated members and registered supporters have until midday on April 2 to cast their votes and the winner will be announced at a scaled back event two days later.

How does the final ballot for the Labour leadership contest work?

A preferential voting method is used whereby each member is asked to rank the three candidates in preferential order.

The winner is the one who receives 50% of the first preference votes, but if that threshold is not reached the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated.

Their votes are then redistributed according to the second preferences until the first contender hits the 50% or above mark.

Sir Keir Starmer

The overwhelming favourite to become the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Brexit spokesman was the first candidate to advance from both nomination stages.

Starmer received 41.5% support at the parliamentary stage which took into account votes from Labour MPs and MEPs, comfortably the highest of the other nominees.

The Holborn and St Pancras MP then gained the backing of the trade unions Unison and the TSSA at the constituencies and affiliates stage of the ballot.

Having won 57.7% of support from the Constituency Labour Parties (CLP) and nearly half of the 32 affiliates, it’s clear that the former barrister is in the driving seat to replace Corbyn.

Starmer remains committed to imposing a 5% increase in income tax on those earning £80,000, scrapping university tuition fees and reintroducing freedom of movement for EU nationals.

The former Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “I’ve spent my life fighting injustice and standing up to the powerful. Labour only wins when we’re united and when we have a radical vision of the future that people can trust.”

Starmer has the heavyweight backing of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Long-Bailey was originally the favourite to win the Labour leadership contest but the left winger dubbed ‘Continuity Corbyn’ appears well behind Starmer in the popularity stakes.

The Salford and Eccles MP was one of the original 35 MPs to nominate Corbyn for the leadership five years ago and has served faithfully in the shadow cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and in her current role as Business Secretary.

The former solicitor wants to put protecting the environment at the heart of a redrawn constitution for the party, which would go down well with the young, and is committed to building 100,000 council houses a year, like Nandy.

Gained a quarter of the vote from the CLP during the second stage of nominations, but a YouGov/Sky poll towards the end of February had her 22 points behind Starmer, who held 53% of the first preference vote among Labour Party members which would be good enough for him to win the contest.

Despite her socialist credentials, Long-Bailey’s association with Corbyn and two general election defeats means she will have a tough time convincing members she can deliver the end to Tory rule despite the endorsement of Momentum.

Lisa Nandy

A massive outsider in the Labour leader odds to become the first female head of the party, the Wigan MP is struggling to convince members she is the right person for the top job.

The same YouGov/Sky poll which questioned 1,323 members of the Labour ‘selectorate’ had her running at just 16% which would ensure her elimination from the first round should Starmer fail to reach the 50% threshold.

Favours the end of NHS privatisation and like the other two candidates wants to see the railways, mail, water and energy renationalised, and Universal Credit scrapped.

On education, not only would Nandy end tuition fees, but she would reintroduce university grants for university students – a very popular measure amongst the young, but are they Labour Party members?

Was one of 20 MPs to resign from the shadow front bench in 2016 in protest at Corbyn’s management style which prompted a leadership contest in which she backed his only rival Clive Lewis.

Nandy was also critical of Labour’s Brexit stance and claimed the party had lost touch with working-class communities.

Needs a massive swing to avoid an early exit from the contest.

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