The NEC made the decision by secret ballot during a meeting at Labour’s Victoria headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, which Corbyn attended.
A Labour party spokesman said: “The NEC has agreed that, as the incumbent leader, Jeremy Corbyn will go forward on to the ballot without requiring nominations from the parliamentary Labour party and the European parliamentary Labour party. All other leadership candidates will require nominations from 20% of the PLP and EPLP.”
Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary, had sought legal advice over the interpretation of a key paragraph of the rules for electing a Labour leader, which were revised by Ed Miliband.
Rule 2Bii in the party’s rulebook, says: “Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20% of the combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP. Nominations not attracting this threshold shall be null and void.”
Corbyn’s allies – including Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union – had argued that the 20% threshold should apply only to challengers, not to a sitting leader. Corbyn would be unlikely to meet the threshold, since more than 80% of Labour MPs backed a no-confidence motion against him.
McCluskey said it would be undemocratic to force Corbyn to secure the backing of Labour MPs before he could be allowed to stand, and accused the parliamentary party of launching a “squalid coup”.
Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, whose constituency office was vandalised on Monday night, has gathered the requisite number of signatures from her fellow MPs. Owen Smith, the former shadow Welsh secretary, is also expected to launch a challenge. Both claim they can unify the fractured party.
Corbyn called for calm in the wake of the attack on Eagle’s office, urging all sides of the bitter dispute in the Labour party to avoid violence and threatening behaviour.
“As someone who has also received death threats this week and previously, I am calling on all Labour party members and supporters to act with calm and treat each other with respect and dignity, even where there is disagreement,” he said in a statement.
This article was written by Heather Stewart, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 12th July 2016 19.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010