Two leading supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are in the frame for a plum European Parliament seat when Labour selects its candidates this week.
Laura Parker (pictured above), national coordinator of the grassroots group Momentum, and Katy Clark, a former MP and political secretary to Corbyn, are both in contention for a London region MEP spot, party sources said.
Gordon Nardell, who is Labour’s new in-house lawyer tasked with dealing with anti-semitism cases, is also seen as a contender.
All the main parties are currently fast-tracking selection of potential candidates for the Strasbourg elections, which will go ahead on May 23 if the UK parliament fails to approve a Brexit deal beforehand.
While the Tory party is facing a serious threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and UKIP, polls show that Labour is on course to gain seats in the Euro elections and the battle has begun in selection races across the country.
Labour has allowed its sitting MEPs to automatically become candidates, but in several places there are vacancies as some have decided not to contest the election.
In London, where Labour has four seats, two sitting MEPs - Claude Moraes, and Seb Dance - are staying on.
But the decision of MEPs Mary Honeyball and Lucy Anderson to step down has left open the prospect of two tempting, high profile slots for replacements.
Some insiders believe Labour may go down to three seats in the capital, because the Lib Dems could revive their fortunes. Parker and Clark may end up effectively in direct competition for the third place on the list.
Selection panels made up of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and regional board members will meet on Monday and Tuesday to interview contenders, ahead of an announcement of Labour’s slate of candidates on Wednesday.
The possible battle between Clark and Parker, a former civil servant who was Corbyn’s private secretary before heading up Momentum, could turn into a proxy for the different factions of the Labour Left and their approach to Brexit.
Parker, whose partner is an Italian nurse working in the NHS, is a strong supporter of ‘Another Europe is Possible’, a pro-Corbyn, anti-Brexit campaign that backs a ‘confirmatory’ referendum.
She is also a key figure in Momentum founder Jon Lansman’s drive to give party members more say over Labour policy and structures. Clark, who is backed by other members of the leader’s office, is seen as more sceptical about the EU.
Both Parker and Clark are also seen as contenders for the safe seat of Vauxhall, should the local party manage to deselect sitting MP and lead Brexiteer Kate Hoey.
Trade unions will have a key role in the selections, but the strength of Momentum in London and the North West regions mean those are the areas where new left-wing candidates are more likely to be chosen. In other areas, ‘moderate’ contenders are expected to do well.
In most regions, two regional officers and one NEC member make up the selection panels.
But in London, the panel has four members. It is understood to be made up of Lansman, Haringey council’s Emine Ibrahim, Young Labour’s Lara McNeill and GMB official Michelle Gordon.
A spokesperson for Labour said: “MEP selection processes are ongoing.”