A key ally to Jeremy Corbyn has been “imposed” as a top MEP candidate as a bitter battle between Labour party factions came to a head.
Katy Clark, who is Corbyn’s former political secretary and now works in the party general secretary’s office, was shifted up the London list of Euro-MP candidates into one of three pole positions on Thursday, multiple sources have confirmed to HuffPost UK.
It came after a meeting of party officials, at which Corbyn was allegedly present, overruled a panel which had originally left Clark out of the picture in sixth place.
But the former MP’s extraordinary re-ranking means she is almost certain to get elected in May’s snap Euro-elections.
As it stands, Labour has four MEPs in the capital. Just two - Seb Dance and Claude Moraes - plan to contest their seat, meaning the party must give the top two slots to them.
With party insiders fearing a Lib Dem surge could see Labour lose one of its four seats, the fight for third place was fierce.
Clark, who is viewed by critics as not being pro-EU, overtook pro-second referendum candidate Laura Parker, who is national organiser for Momentum.
BAME GMB-backed trade union activist Taranjit Chana was also pushed way down the list into sixth spot, it is said.
The panel was overruled by party officials after an emergency meeting about the complaint was called. Corbyn is said to have been present, sources have said.
Clark supported the eurosceptic Labour Against the Euro campaign and campaigned against the EU constitution, one source said.
The former MP lost her seat in Scotland in 2015 to the SNP but her long-standing closeness to Corbyn saw her join his top team after he became Labour leader. She subsequently led the party’s democracy review.
After Andy Burnham decided to step down to become Mayor of Greater Manchester, she tried unsuccessfully to get selected for the seat of Leigh in the 2017 election but was beaten by Jo Platt.
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.
One party source told HuffPost UK: “What happened today raises some serious questions about the role of party staff and the use of NEC officers to overturn a legitimate panel decision, which could lead to accusations of decision by fiat.
“The Blairite old guard would be proud of this kind of manoeuvre.
“It looks pretty bad for Labour. We have a Lexiteer up the list, a Momentum Remainer down and a BAME lesbian down.”
Another party insider said: “It’s a grubby way to do things. Everyone on the outside of the actual process is sat back wondering how on earth this has happened.
“It won’t survive external scrutiny - there could even be a legal challenge. It looks bad for us.”
HuffPost UK has contacted the Labour Party for comment.