Jeremy Corbyn’s successor as Labour leader will be announced on April 4 after a three-month contest, the party’s ruling body has decided.
Nominations for the race to replace Corbyn will open formally on Tuesday, with the ballot taking place between February 21 to April 2, the National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed on Monday.
Among those expected to go for the top job are Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long Bailey, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy, Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry. Party chairman Ian Lavery, who attended the meeting, is still undecided.
The general public will be able to take part in the leadership election if they join the party by next week or if they pay £25 each to register for a one-off vote, the NEC decided.
A 48-hour window will be created to allow people to sign up as so-called “registered supporters” with voting rights.
Candidates will have just under a week to get the required nominations from fellow MPs. A further month will be allowed to get the necessary nominations from local parties and from trade unions and other groups.
But the left-dominated NEC faced swift accusations of trying to “rig” the race in favour of Long Bailey, who is expected to win the backing of Momentum founder Jon Lansman.
Momentum has extensive reach among the party’s members but candidates won’t get access until membership data until after the local party and union nominations are completed.
“Basically, the Momentum candidate goes in to the race with an in-built advantage,” one NEC source told HuffPost UK.
The first hustings for leader could take place as early as Tuesday 6pm in the Commons for MPs, with Wednesday 10am mooted as the time for the first deputy leader hustings in front of their colleagues.
A Labour party spokesperson said: “Our National Executive Committee has agreed the timetable and process for the leadership and deputy leadership elections.
“We are by far the largest political party in the UK with well over half a million members. We want as many of our members and supporters to take part, so it has been designed to be open, fair and democratic.”
The full timetable is as follows:
Tuesday 7 January: Nominations open from MPs and MEPs.
Monday 13 January: Nominations from MPs and MEPs closes at 2.30pm.
Tuesday 14 January: Registered supporters applications open at 5pm.
Thursday 16 January: Registered supporters applications close at 5pm.
Wednesday 15 January: Second stage of nominations from Constituency Labour Parties and affiliates opens.
Monday 20 January: Freeze date for eligibility for new members and affiliated supporters, closes at 5pm.
Friday 14 February: Close of CLP and affiliate nominations.
Friday 21 February: Ballot opens.
Thursday 2 April: Ballot closes at 12pm.
Saturday 4 April: Special conference to announce results.
Nominations of candidates is a two-stage process.
Candidates who receive nominations from at least 10% (22) of Labour MPs and MEPs will go through to the second stage of nominations from Constituency Labour Parties and affiliated organisations.
They then must receive nominations from at least 5% of all CLPs or at least three affiliates - at least two of which must be trade unions - comprising 5% of fully paid up affiliated membership.
The freeze date of 20 January for new members to join and be eligible to vote is a change from 2016, when a retrospective cut-off date was set. This is to ensure the elections are as open and democratic as possible.