The head of Britains leading republican pressure group says that the likely election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader would provide a strong anti-monarchy voice in Westminster for the first time.
Corbyn, 66 – who, according to recent polls, is the frontrunner over fellow candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – has long been a staunch republican, advocating the abolition of the British monarchy.
The republican movement attracts little support in the UK, with a poll by Ipsos Mori in 2013 finding that 77% of Britons wished to retain the monarchy, while only 17% wanted a republic. Despite this, Graham Smith, the chief executive of Republic, tells IBTimes UK exclusively that Corbyn could bring the issue to the fore as leader of the opposition.
If he can actually succeed as Labour leader then we have a republican as party leader for first time. And that clearly helps legitimise the cause and gives it opportunities to amplify the case, he says.
Outspoken Corbyn has made headlines in recent weeks by saying that he would end austerity, withdraw the UK from Nato and apologise for the Iraq War on behalf of Labour.
Despite an interview with the New Statesman back in July in which Corbyn said the republican movement was not a fight Im interested in, Smith still believes that his alternative stance on many issues makes the abolition of the monarchy a topic that could feature prominently if he is elected leader.
I think also having someone whos prepared to break out of the comfort zone of Westminster politics in terms of other issues then creates the opportunity to start talking about our issue. Because a lot of the time I think politicians agree with us but simply dont want to get involved in these issues because its beyond their comfort zone, Smith says.
Republic is strictly non-party political and claims to have the support of more than 30,000 republicans. As well as Corbyn, the pressure group claims to have the support of several politicians in Labour, the Green Party and the SNP.
According to Smith, the group now needs to get more people in Westminster speaking out on the issue, particularly those aligned to the right politically, for the movement to progress.
One of our biggest challenges is to get people in the centre and on the right to speak up as well because a lot of them do support us. But we do need to get them to be vocal so it doesnt come off as a left-wing niche issue, he says.
Labour has revealed that more than 610,000 have people signed up to vote in the election, including 189,703 affiliated supporters, 121,295 registered supporters and 299,755 members. The winner will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.