LONDON (AP) — Britain’s High Court on Thursday struck down an attempt to remove the head of the country’s divided Labour opposition party from a contest for the party’s leadership.
Labour lawmakers are trying to unseat leader Jeremy Corbyn, a 67-year-old left-winger considered unelectable by the party’s more centrist members.
The party’s simmering crisis was brought to the boil by Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union. Many Labour legislators accuse Corbyn of running a lackluster campaign in favor of EU membership, and passed a no-confidence vote in him after the “leave” campaign won last month’s referendum.
Corbyn, who was elected leader less than a year ago by a large majority of party members, has refused to resign.
Labour legislator Owen Smith is running against Corbyn in an election that will be decided by half a million party members and supporters.
One party donor, Michael Foster, went to court, arguing that Corbyn’s name should not be on the ballot because he did not get backing from 51 Labour members of Parliament — a threshold Smith had to meet.
But the judge, David Foskett, sided with Labour’s executive, saying that the nomination rule applied only to challengers, and as the incumbent, “Corbyn was entitled to be on the ballot paper without the need to obtain any level of nominations.”
Foster did not seek permission to appeal the judgment.
Corbyn welcomed the ruling, saying the lawsuit had been “a waste of time and resources when our party should be focused on holding the government to account.”
The result of the leadership election will be announced Sept. 24.
The EU vote also toppled Britain’s Conservative leader, David Cameron, who resigned as prime minister after voters rejected his call to stay in the bloc. Prime Minister Theresa May replaced him on July 13.