Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not “interfere” if the local Hove and Portslade Labour Party moved to deselect its sitting MP, Peter Kyle.
On Tuesday evening, the Labour leader spoke to over 1,000 supporters at a rally in Brighton & Hove.
Kyle, who was elected in 2015 and is backing Owen Smith in the leadership contest, did not attend the meeting.
Speaking to BBC South East Today, Corbyn was asked whether Labour members in Kyle’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP) would try to deselect him as the parliamentary candidate at the next election.
“What goes on in CLPs is part of a democratic process. I am not a leader that wants to interfere in the running of every constituency party or all aspects the party. We are party of well over 500,000 members. Three times the size of the Conservative Party.
“That is great and it’s good and it’s good there is democracy in the party and it’s good there is an interaction politically within the party, that is surely something is healthy.”
Asked if this meant he would not “move to condemn those who would choose to deselect an MP who won for Labour against a Conservative, against the odds, in seat like Hove?”, Corbyn added:
“Look there is going to be new boundaries anyway before any selections can take place. We have no idea what those boundaries are going to be. There will the have to be a selection process at that time. That is what political democracy is about. It’s not about me telling people what to do and what to think.”
Kyle won his seat with a majority of 1,236. The constituency had perviously been held by a Conservative.
Brighton & Hove Labour Party was suspended in July after the National Executive Committee (NEC) said it had concerns over alleged abuse and that the ballot for the election to local positions had been improperly run.
The suspension followed the election of Corbyn supporters to key posts.
Corbyn told the rally last night he was “very concerned” about the suspension.
Addressing the crowd, local councillor Kevin Allen said the NEC’s decision to suspend the local party was “nonsense”
He added: “I am a specimen of a rare breed. A Corbyn supporting Brighton and Hove city councillor. There are in fact rumours that there may be one or two more out there.
“I would be asking Mr Kyle how he reconciles his respect of democratic choice with fact he and other MPs have forced this totally unnecessary leadership election.”
Labour’s Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, who is supporting Owen Smith’s leadership bid, attacked Corbyn for his comments.
Last month Corbyn warned that every sitting Labour MP will have to win over local party members if they want to stand again at the 2020 general election.
In an interview with The Huffington Post published today, Owen Smith said he was “absolutely convinced” shadow chancellor John McDonnell would push for mandatory reselection of MPs.
He added of Corbyn: “I think Jeremy mentioned reselection in his opening speech in this campaign. At his launch the word deselection came out of his mouth, I think that tells you all you need to know.”