Jeremy Corbyn has moved to reassure Labour MPs worried about leftwing plots to oust them from their Westminster seat, vowing to make it 'crystal clear' he opposed reselection changes.
Ahead of a meeting of the weekly Parliamentary Labour Party, Mr Corbyn announced that Chief Whip Rosie Winterton would head up the party's response to the boundary review of constituencies.
Ms Winterton, seen by many MPs as a guarantor of protections for 'moderate' MPs, will head a group tasked with the review - which is expected to see Labour lose at least a dozen seats.
In a statement, Labour said Ms Winterton would be "working very closely with the leader's office, the Deputy leader, Labour’s General Secretary, party staff and politicians to shape Labour’s overall approach to this issue".
Mr Corbyn said: “David Cameron and the Conservative party are trying to rig the constitution for their own political ends.
"They want to reduce by fifty the number of directly elected Members of Parliament under the guise of reducing the cost of politics, whilst cramming the Lords full with their unelected friends and donors at the tax payer’s expense.
“I am delighted that Rosie Winterton has agreed to lead Labour’s work on this important issue. We need a response across the party and Parliamentary aspects of what the Tories are planning to do, and Rosie Winterton will ensure that this is delivered in a consensual way.”
"I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that I do not support any changes to Labour’s rules to make it easier to deselect sitting Labour MPs."
Mr Corbyn was keen to head off the issue after last week's fractious PLP meeting, when several Labour MPs attacked John McDonnell's handling of the Tory Government's fiscal charter.
Some Labour MPs who had abstained on the key vote complained last week that their names had been released by the Labour whips' office, but insiders pointed out there was no intention to subject MPs to a 'witchunt'.
However, several backbenchers including Jamie Reed and Mike Gapes have come under intense attack online and several MPs have faced threats to deselect them.
Today, Labour MP Jess Phillips wrote an impassioned blog for HuffPostUK in which she attacked online abuse of sitting MPs, while Liz Kendall took to Twitter to defy her critics too.
Mandatory reselection has been a demand of several leftwingers over the years, including Mr Corbyn's long-time ally Jon Lansman, the brains behind the new Momentum movement.
But with bitter memories of the 1980s reselection battles that pitted left versus right as Militant was routed, Mr Corbyn is keen to reassure the party that the rules will not be changed.