Jeremy Corbyn has been reportedly forced to cancel his final rally of the latest Labour leadership contest over fears disgraced former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman and his supporters could "sabotage" the event.
The Water Lily, the Mile End conference centre set to host the rally this evening, learnt of the cancellation via email this morning (20 September), a source told IBTimes UK.
Top Corbyn allies John McDonnell and Diane Abbott were set to be among the speakers until the Jeremy for Labour campaign told supporters over Facebook that the event had been scrapped because of "popular demand".
"The Jeremy for Labour campaign have now decided to hold two events instead of one central rally," a spokesperson said.
"Due to popular demand from party members we have decided to super-charge 'Super Tuesday' to ensure we maximise Jeremy's mandate to take our party forward."
The campaign now plans to hold two phone canvassing drives at Unite's London HQ and McDonnell will host a similar event in Clapham. But despite Jeremy for Labour's claims of "popular demand", The Independent reports a different reason for the last-minute cancellation.
"Jeremy's campaign team were worried he could be upstaged, but there's no way we were going to let Lutfur try and exploit him to try and resurrect his career," a source told the paper.
"We couldn't let this event be sabotaged. We've had enough of Lutfur and his lot."
Rahman is apparently a supporter of Corbyn and some of the Labour leader's key allies, including his communications chief Seamus Milne and Momentum founder Jon Lansman, have been supportive of the former Tower Hamlets leader.
Rahman was barred from political office in 2015 for five years for serious electoral corruption.
A Corbyn spokesperson said when asked for a comment: "This is a completely untrue allegation, the rally has been rearranged due to the oversubscription of the event, coupled with the potential extending duration of the NEC meeting, which meant that Jeremy may not be able to make the original timings. Therefore, so we do not disapoint our supporters the campaign has chosen to instead focus on our 'Super Tuesday' phonebanking drive given it is the last night before polls close."
- 18 July: Signing up as a registered supporter to vote in the election begins.
- 19 - 20 July: Number of MP nominations for each candidate to be published.
- 20 July: Deadline for people to sign up as a registered supporter closes.
- 22 August: Ballot papers will begin to be sent out around the UK, but to Labour Party members only.
- 21 September: Deadline for ballot papers to be returned is midday.
- 24 September: The election result will be announced at a Leadership Conference in Liverpool.