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Keir Starmer favourite to succeed Corbyn - poll

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

Sir Keir Starmer is the clear front-runner for the Labour leadership contest, according to a new poll.

The centrist shadow Brexit secretary, who has not declared whether he is standing or not, would win the contest, a YouGov survey reported in The Guardian states.

Sir Keir would beat left winger Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has said she is considering a leadership bid, 61% to 39% in a run off, according to the survey of Labour members has not declared whether he is standing or not

The election process will be launched next week, with the new leader taking over in March following Labour's worst election performance since 1935, under Jeremy Corbyn.

The third most popular choice among those surveyed was outspoken Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, who has also not said whether she will stand.

Prof Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London, who jointly ran the poll with the University of Sussex, told The Guardian: "This is not shaping up to be a 2015-style Labour leadership contest.

"Unless potential candidates drop out before the start of voting, it may take a few rounds to decide the winner this time around.

"But it doesn't look at the moment as if the winner will come from the left of the party.

"Right now anyway, Keir Starmer looks to be heading for a fairly emphatic victory."

At present only shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, and the shadow treasury minister, Clive Lewis, have formally announced they will stand for the party leadership.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, party chairman Ian Lavery, and Commons Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper are also believed to be considering entering the contest.

The poll of 1,059 Labour party members put Sir Keir on 31% for first choice votes, 20% backed Ms Long-Bailey, Ms Phillips received 11%, and Mr Lewis and Ms Cooper were the first choice for 7%, according to the poll.

Ms Thornberry was on 6% and Ms Nandy was backed by 5% as first choice.

With less popular candidates eliminated, a final run-off would see Sir Keir beat Ms Long-Bailey in the last round, according to the survey.

Brexit could have an impact on the result as Ms Long-Bailey is rated first choice by 19% of Labour members who voted Remain, but scores 31% of those who voted Leave.

Sir Keir is backed as first choice by 34% of Remainers in the survey, but only supported by 17% of Leavers.

The survey was commissioned from YouGov by the Party Members Project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.