Jeremy Corbyn has warned all Labour MPs that they will face reselection before the 2020 general election, a move which could see the ousting of many of his opponents in the parliamentary party.
The Labour leader said all constituency Labour parties would be allowed to select new candidates after the 2018 boundary review even if the sitting MP is well-known or has held the seat for decades.
At his leadership campaign launch in London on Thursday morning, Corbyn said he backed a "full and open selection process" for all parliamentary seats, assuming the government's boundary review goes ahead as planned by 2018. The review is due to redraw the British political map by reducing the number of constituencies from 650 to 600 and ensuring they all represent roughly the same number of people.
Corbyn confirmed "the sitting MP for any part or any substantial part of the new boundary would have the opportunity to put their name forward" but there will be no guarantees of automatic selection.
He has almost no relationship with the vast majority of Labour MPs, most of whom are backing his rival Owen Smith in this summer's leadership election.
But the current leader, who is favourite to be re-elected, insisted he wanted the party to come together.
"I have an ability to conveniently forget some of the unpleasant things that are said because it’s not worth it," Corbyn said at the launch. "Those that may not agree with me, may not like me personally, I hold out the hand of friendship."
Corbyn also called for Labour MPs to unite when the leadership election ends in September: "It’s the job, it’s the duty, it’s the responsibility of every Labour MP to get behind the party at that point and put it there against the Tories about the different, fairer kind of Britain that we can build together."
He added: "This party is going places, this party is strong, this party is capable of winning a general election and if I am leader of the party I will be that prime minister."
Corbyn also attacked pharmaceutical companies in an attempt to undermine his opponent Owen Smith, who previously worked for Pfizer as a lobbyist, prompting accusations that he supports privatisation of parts of the NHS. Corbyn said "medical research shouldn’t be farmed out to big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and others but should be funded through the Medical Research Council".
Those remarks provoked a response from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which suggested Corbyn did not understand how drug research worked.
"The pharmaceutical industry invests more than £88 billion a year into research and development in order to bring new medicines and vaccines to patients to fight disease. These new medicines include treatments for diabetes, cancer and cures for Hepatitis C, transforming the lives of patients and their families," the association said in a statement.
"In the UK this equates to £4.1 billion per year of investment in R&D, with the [Medical Research Council] also contributing £770 million and research charities £1.3 billion. Clearly the taxpayer could not replace the world-wide investment made by industry in researching new medicines. Collaboration between industry researchers, academics and clinicians in the development of medicines for patient benefit is hugely important."
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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