Jeremy Corbyn appears to back Rebecca Long-Bailey to replace him as Labour leader by ‘hailing her as our candidate’ at hard-Left event’
- Jeremy Corbyn is said to have backed Rebecca Long-Bailey at private event
- Labour leader apparently hailed shadow business secretary as ‘our candidate’
- Ms Long-Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer are the front runners for Labour top job
Jeremy Corbyn has seemingly backed Rebecca Long-Bailey as his successor by hailing her as ‘our candidate’ at a hard-Left event.
The outgoing Labour leader delivered the apparent endorsement at a retirement party for former MP Ronnie Campbell over the weekend.
It is more evidence that Ms Long-Bailey is the Left’s favoured option to replace Mr Corbyn in the contest, due to finish in April.
Unite chief Len McCluskey, a close Corbyn ally, heaped praise on Ms Long-Bailey over the weekend after his union supported her.
According to The Times, Mr Corbyn gave a glimpse of his own views at the event on Saturday night.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at PMQs last week) has seemingly backed Rebecca Long-Bailey as his successor by hailing her as ‘our candidate’
It is more evidence that Ms Long-Bailey (pictured at a campaign event last week) is the Left’s favoured option to replace Mr Corbyn in the contest, due to finish in April
After paying tribute to Mr Campbell, a fellow member of the left-wing Labour Campaign Group, he reportedly said: ‘It’s an absolute pleasure to be here alongside Becky Long-Bailey, our candidate for leader.
‘I’ve known Becky since she came in to parliament and we’ve worked very well together. She has done the most to develop our trade union policies.’
In a swipe at other contenders, he added that Ms Long-Bailey had been ‘steadfast’ during the failed coup by Labour MPs in 2016.
Mr Corbyn’s aides said he had not intended to endorse Ms Long-Bailey and had been speaking in an ‘inclusive way’.
Ms Long-Bailey, who has denied being the ‘continuity Corbyn’ candidate, and Sir Keir Starmer are the front runners in the race to be the next Labour leader.
Moderate MPs fear if she won she would stick to the same policies that failed to win the party the last two general elections.
But in a round of interviews yesterday Mr McCluskey said it is ‘wrong’ and ‘simply unfair’ to describe Ms Long-Bailey as the ‘continuity’.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live, Mr McCluskey was asked if he was concerned at the reports that some centrist MPs were planning to walk away.
He replied: ‘No. That is a disgraceful thing. If you want to give me some names then we can debate that with them.
‘The truth of the matter is that if any Labour MP hasn’t learnt the lesson that we need a united party, remember Jeremy for four years has had to fight, not just the enemy like the right wing newspapers… but indeed our own ranks.
‘Now if people haven’t learnt that the British electorate do not like a divided party and want to continue the divisions after this leadership election then frankly they would be better to clear out now rather than mess us about.’
When he was told that the MPs would leave the party rather than seek to divide it, Mr McCluskey said: ‘Good riddance.’
Sir Keir Starmer (pictured on Sky News today) is the other favourite in the race to succeed Mr Corbyn as leader
Earlier in the contest Ms Long-Bailey described Mr Corbyn as a ’10 out of 10′ leader.
Meanwhile, the majority of Labour’s new MPs have joined Mr Corbyn’s hard left Socialist Campaign Group, suggesting his legacy could live on.
The group launched Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign in 2015 and its members helped form his shadow cabinet.
Of the 26 new Labour MPs elected in last month’s election, 16 new MPs – 62 per cent – have been named as members of the group.
Twelve of the MPs attended the newly reformed SCG’s first meeting last week, where it was decided the group would campaign for Ms Long-Bailey as leader and Richard Burgon for Deputy Leader.