Labour Leadership Rumblings Latest

A flurry of Labour leadership speculation this morning after the Manchester Evening News reported, to the Lobby’s consternation, that Jeremy Corbyn has given a departure date to his inner circle. Naturally Team Corbyn deny this, telling Guido there is “No truth to it”. Worth noting that they also denied Jez had a wobble back during the leadership crisis of July last year, when it is widely believed he considered resigning. What’s clear is that some Corbynistas are on manoeuvres…

Rebecca Long-Bailey is being heavily tipped as the next Labour leader. She is a 2015 intake novice who rose quickly to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury – readers will remember her best from her car crash interview with Andrew Neil in November. Long-Bailey is a protege of John McDonnell. The Shadow Chancellor, while remaining close to Corbyn, takes a more realistic view of his chances of success. Team Corbyn have previously had suspicions about McDonnell’s motives. Long-Bailey is highly-rated by the leader’s office, but this tweet by McDonnell tipping her as the “next generation of our socialist leadership” is the furthest any Labour MP has gone to talk her up:

Is McDonnell merely being generous to his Shadow Treasury junior? Or is it a sign Long-Bailey is being pushed by McDonnell as a successor to Jez…

Then there is Clive Lewis. He majorly fell out with the leader’s office over that infamous autocue row with Seumas Milne at conference. He is Paul Mason’s choice for next leader and has the backing of Owen Jones as well. All eyes now on tonight’s vote, which could see Lewis sacked from the Shadow Cabinet if he rebels against the three line whip and votes against Article 50. Lewis is weighing up whether becoming a martyr for the Remain cause and a traitor to Jez will help or hinder him with Jez-loving Remain-backing members. The government’s so-called ‘concession’ yesterday – and how it was immediately seized upon by Keir Starmer – is indicative of the perilous situation. In reality nothing has been conceded, yet if the Corbynistas can claim victory then potential Shadow Cabinet rebels might be persuaded not to break the three line whip. So the Tory ‘concession’ could have the effect of helping the Shadow Cabinet stay together. Almost as if the Tory whips are fully signed up members of the #SaveJez campaign…




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Quote of the Day

Stephen Bush writing in the New Statesman‘s morning briefing…

“The terrifying truth is that the Opposition is too divided – within the parliamentary party, within the trades unions, within the Shadow Cabinet and even within the leader’s office – to be anything other than a veto player as far as Brexit goes, and the party’s whole gambit is really about trying to make that weakness look like a strength. Keir Starmer saying that Labour is “increasingly likely” to vote down the deal is simply a reflection of the fact that the one thing the Labour party will be able to agree on as far as Brexit goes is that Theresa May’s deal is no good.”

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