The Commonwealth is facing uncertainty over its leadership after its heads of government rejected calls for the secretary-general, Baroness Scotland, to be given an automatic second term, the BBC has learned.

A leaked letter from Boris Johnson suggests an alternative candidate could stand against her.

Commonwealth diplomats meet on Thursday to discuss the organisation’s future.

The Commonwealth Secretariat refused to comment.

Diplomats fear the intergovernmental organisation – comprising more than 50 countries, many of them former British colonies, encompassing almost a third of the world’s population – now risks a bitter internal battle over its future leadership.

Lady Scotland’s four-year term of office as secretary-general comes to an end next month.

A number of supportive member states suggested before Christmas she should get an automatic second

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