In Brief

Jeremy Corbyn is a 'disaster', says Stephen Hawking

World-renowned physicist calls for Labour Leader to step down 'for the sake of the party'

Jeremy Corbyn: Roads closed as thousands attend Liverpool rally

02 August

Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted a "strong and confident" party to "reach out to people all across the country" as he addressed a crowd of thousands at a campaign rally in Liverpool.

The Labour leader told the crowds at St George's Plateau in the city centre he did not see the leadership challenge from Owen Smith as a distraction, but as an opportunity to increase the party's appeal.Despite the rain, the rally proved so popular that roads had to be closed, with supporters carrying banners that read "Scousers for Corbyn" and "We chose Jez".

One estimate put the turnout at between 7,000 and 10,000, according to the Liverpool Echo. Corbyn described it as the "biggest crowd of this year's campaign".

Touching on everything from workers' rights and mental health to the housing crisis, Corbyn said too many children were being brought up in badly maintained privately rented accommodation and said that under his leadership, Labour would ensure that "everyone is properly housed within our society".

Earlier that day, Corbyn received the backing of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in his bid to retain leadership of the party.

General secretary Dave Ward said Labour needed a fundamental change and that Corbyn was the person to do that.

"He is the candidate to drive through the change that ordinary people are crying out for," he said.

Corbyn is completely unelectable, say former advisors

01 August

Jeremy Corbyn is "absolutely, completely unelectable", say two of the Labour leader's former economic advisors.

David Blanchflower and Simon Wren-Lewis, both of whom were members of John McDonnell’s economic advisory committee, told The Guardian that Corbyn was unable to form a strong opposition, even when the economy appeared to be "going down very fast" after the vote to leave the European Union.

In a further blow to the embattled Labour leader, they are now backing Owen Smith in the party's leadership campaign, with Blanchflower claiming the Welsh MP is far better at consulting businesses and economists.

Wren-Lewis, a professor at Oxford University, wrote on his blog that "you need a parliamentary party to provide a voice that will be heard" to build a mass social democratic party and that MPs have to be on the side of the party's leader.

In an earlier post, he said it would be "absurd for me to pretend that people would elect to power a Labour party that had voted no confidence in its leader".

The news comes as The Times reports that Corbyn is seeking new legislation to block the prime minister's ability to deploy British SAS forces without parliamentary approval.

Corbyn is calling for a US-style war powers act aimed at constraining the ability of the country's leader to approve secret military operations abroad by bolstering the authority of parliament over such decisions.

Under the current legislation, said the Labour leader, former prime minister David Cameron was able to bypass the need for a Commons vote on sending regular forces to war by deploying special forces instead.

Jeremy Corbyn wins High Court battle to be on leadership ballot

28 July

Jeremy Corbyn can automatically be included on the Labour leadership ballot, the High Court ruled this afternoon.

Mr Justice Foskett decreed the party leader does not need to secure the backing of 51 MPs or MEPs in order to stand for re-election. His challenger, Owen Smith, has already received the required nominations.

Corbyn and his allies welcomed the court's decision, with the leader condemning the case as a "waste of time and resources" when the party should be focused on holding the government to account. 

He added: "I hope all candidates and supporters will reject any attempt to prolong this process, and that we can now proceed with the election in a comradely and respectful manner."

A ruling against him "would have plunged the party even further into civil war", said The Guardian warned.

The judge acknowledged his ruling was "of considerable importance" to Labour, its leader and the wider public, but emphasised it was "wholly unaffected by political considerations".

The case was brought by party donor Michael Foster, after Labour's National Executive Committee ruled the party leader was automatically entitled to be on the ballot.

Foster, who will now have to pay the legal costs for both Corbyn and the Labour Party, has confirmed he will not appeal the decision. "We wanted the courts to adjudicate. They have," he said.

Labour's general secretary, Iain McNicol, said he was "delighted" at the ruling and said the leadership contest would now be able to continue as normal.

The judgement was also welcomed by Smith, who said all questions about the leadership process had now been "put to bed".

The Pontypridd MP enjoys support among the parliamentary Labour Party, but Corbyn remains the clear favourite among party members and the bookmakers.

Jeremy Corbyn court case has 'huge implications' for Labour

27 July

The High Court will today rule on a legal challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's right to be automatically included on the ballot for the Labour leadership election.

The court case has "huge implications for Labour", says the BBC. "If Corbyn loses the court case he could potentially lose his job too."

The case was brought by millionaire Labour donor and former candidate Michael Foster, whose lawyer argued contest rules had been "misapplied" by the party's National Executive Committee (NEC).

The NEC ruled earlier this month that the Labour leader would not have to secure the backing of his MPs in order to stand for re-election in September.

Corbyn's challenger, former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, has already obtained the required nominations.

"There's nothing whatsoever unfair to a leader to expect him or her to gather or have a minimum level of support," Gavin Millar QC told the High Court in London yesterday. "It goes with the job description to maintain that minimum level of support in the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party]."

But both sides insist the rule book supports their argument. The Labour Party's barrister, Mark Henderson, said the rules "were clear that MPs alone could not seek to remove a sitting leader".

If the decision is overturned, leadership nominations could be reopened and Corbyn would be required to secure the backing of 51 MPs and MEPs – something many commentators think would be impossible.

If, however, the judge supports the NEC's decision, it is expected that Corbyn will stay on as leader, having garnered huge support among grassroots members.

Polling data suggests the veteran MP would lose if the membership were the same as it was last summer, due to the "disillusionment" of longstanding supporters, says the New Statesman. However, it adds, he has "reshaped the party in his own image, and it now has a pro-Corbyn majority".

Jeremy Corbyn branded a hypocrite over gender pay gap

25 July

Jeremy Corbyn is facing accusations of hypocrisy over gender pay equality after the Sunday Times published figures showing a predominance of men in top-paying roles in his inner circle.

At the start of a second leadership contest for the Labour party in a year that is already descending into acrimony, critics seized on the report, as well as Corbyn's apparent refusal to offer transparency on pay rates, to charge him with contradicting his own policies.

Launching his campaign to stay on as opposition leader last week, Corbyn railed against pay inequality and said he would force companies with more than 21 staff to publish "pay audits".

But he subsequently declined to comment when asked whether he would apply the same principle to his own office, The Spectator says.

A spokesman later said salaries will be published next year, as required under rules relating to public money given to the opposition leader.

Figures since handed to the Sunday Times show the top two posts in Corbyn's office are held by chief of staff Simon Fletcher and Seumas Milne, the director of strategy, who are paid about £102,000 and £97,000 respectively.

Kevin Slocombe, the head of media, was thought to have been next in the pay-pecking order before he left the role over the weekend. He has been replaced by Matt Zarb-Cousin.

The highest paid women in the leader's office are political secretary Katy Clark and Nancy Platts, the trade union liaison manager, who are paid about £65,000 and £59,000 respectively.

Corbyn supporters angrily denounced the accusation and argued that the positions were fundamentally different.

However, Labour politicians opposing Corbyn said the pay scales were signs of hypocrisy.

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips said: "It looks hypocritical to preach about the importance of equal pay while putting men in senior roles with much higher salaries than the women... It’s not the first time he has failed to practise what he preaches."

The Corbyn-supporting Momentum group also came under fire this weekend after it was revealed it was selling T-shirts made by workers in Bangladesh earning just 30p per hour. The tops were being sold for £10 each to fund Corbyn's campaign.

The basic salary for workers in the Gildan factory is 6,500 taka (£63) each month, says the Daily Mail, less than the £93 average wage in the country and the £114 estimated as a living wage.

Momentum said it had been "misled" by its supplier, Bermondsey-based 3rd Rail, and that it has cancelled all outstanding orders. The group said it "is dedicated to championing rights at work both at home and overseas".

Labour leadership election: Will 183,000 vote for Jeremy Corbyn?

21 July

Labour has signed up more than 183,000 new registered supporters in 48 hours ahead of this summer's leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

Voters rushed to pay the one-off fee at a rate of one per second, despite the controversial decision by Labour's national executive committee to increase the price from £3 to £25. "It has, if nothing else, raised £4,588,525 for Labour," says The Guardian. "Internal strife has to have some upsides."

The number of supporters who signed up is believed to be more than the entire membership of the Conservative Party – but it remains unclear which candidate they will back.

"Allies of Mr Corbyn were left jubilant by the late surge, predicting the vast majority were his backers," the Daily Telegraph reports. But Smith's supporters insist many of them could vote for him after a recruitment drive from the "Saving Labour" campaign.

The BBC's assistant political editor, Norman Smith, believes the surge is great news for Corbyn. "Everyone I have spoken to believes most of the new supporters, perhaps an overwhelming majority of them, will be backing the Labour leader," he says. "The contest may almost be over before it's begun."

Corbyn launched his re-election campaign this morning, promising to fight against his five perceived injustices of 21st-century Britain: inequality, neglect, insecurity, prejudice and discrimination.

"Last year Britain was ranked 18th in the world for its gender pay gap, below Nicaragua, Namibia and New Zealand," he said. "We can and must do better. So Labour is calling time on the waiting game."

Smith, meanwhile, has started his campaign with an attack on Corbyn for his performance against Theresa May during yesterday's Prime Minister Questions. "I was more than frustrated: I was furious," he told The Guardian. "Jeremy is just not up to the job of taking them on at the despatch box. I don't think he enjoys it."

Long-time Corbyn ally Diane Abbott, however, blamed MPs for their lack of enthusiasm in the Commons. "If Owen Smith wants Jeremy to score over Theresa May in PMQs, he needs to talk to his colleagues," she told the BBC.

"They refuse to cheer, they sit on their hands, they sulk, they chat among themselves and some of these Labour MPs need to understand, it's not about supporting Jeremy as a person, it's about going into the chamber for PMQs and supporting your party."

Labour leadership election: Smith 'just as radical' as Corbyn

20 July

Owen Smith will take on Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour Party after Angela Eagle dropped out of the running.

Wallasey MP Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, pulled out after receiving 25 fewer nominations from MPs and MEPs than Smith.

After announcing her decision, Eagle immediately threw her support behind the former shadow work and pensions secretary in his bid to oust Corbyn. 

According to the BBC, Smith has already promised her the position of shadow chancellor if he becomes leader.

"I will want to work side by side with Angela throughout this contest. I want Angela to be at my right hand throughout this," he said.

Often seen as more moderate than Corbyn, Smith insisted he was "just as radical" and promised to move the party forward and away from the turmoil of recent months.

In a statement on the Labour website, Corbyn acknowledged Labour has been divided in recent times and made his case for remaining.

"My vision is built around an economy that delivers for everyone, in every part of the country," he said. "Let's have a comradely debate this summer - and emerge stronger and more united to protect our communities and defeat this Conservative government."

A source close to Corbyn told The Guardian that Smith will be "an easier beast to fight" than Eagle, as he is "the Blair-lite candidate and he can't hide it any more".

Eligible voters are due to receive their ballot papers on 22 August and will have a month to decide who to back. The result will be announced on 24 September.

The Labour leader's opponents are now bracing themselves for "a brutal purge of moderates and a possible party split if Mr Corbyn wins", says the Daily Telegraph.

Jeremy Corbyn stands firm after huge surge in party membership

08 July

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on his party to come together and challenge the government in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

In a defiant article in The Guardian, Corbyn said Britain needed "leadership and a clear strategy" and that the Brexit negotiations could not be left to the Tories.

Corbyn, who has been facing a rebellion among his own MPs in recent weeks, pointed to the huge surge in Labour membership as evidence of his support among voters. The party now has more than 500,000 members, the most in modern history.

"The Keep Corbyn campaign, coordinated by the grassroots group Momentum, believes the bulk of new members would back Corbyn in a challenge," says The Guardian. "But a rival Saving Labour campaign has been signing up members of the public who want him to stand down."

The Labour leader said he was ready to "reach out" to MPs who oppose his leadership, but stood firm and once again refused to resign.

"MPs need to respect the democracy of our party and the views of Labour's membership," he said. "Those who want to challenge my leadership are free to do so in a democratic contest, in which I will be a candidate."

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Labour rebels were now in retreat after talks between unions and deputy leader Tom Watson failed to find a solution to the deadlock.

Corbyn urged his MPs to "stand up in united opposition" to the Tory government: "If we come together, we can take them on and win."

Jeremy Corbyn: Are Labour rebels retreating?

07 July

Labour rebels are "in retreat", according to the Daily Telegraph, after several senior MPs told the newspaper Jeremy Corbyn would triumph in any future leadership election.

"It's finished. He will win easily in a second contest if he is on the ballot. It's everything we wanted to avoid," one such MP told the newspaper.

Another Labour source said Corbyn had "dug his heels in" and "isn't going anywhere", adding: "It's grim.

"He is losing support of the membership by the day, there is no doubt about that, but they just sign up new members to replace them. He is Teflon in that sense."

Labour membership is on course to hit 600,000, a half-century peak, according to the New Statesman.

"Local parties – who are responsible for vetting new members in the first instance – report that the bulk of joiners who have responded to welcome emails or messages from MPs are strongly opposed to any attempt to remove Corbyn," adds the magazine.

Talks are continuing between the Corbyn-supporting trade unions, which are the party's biggest financial donors, and Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson, who is believed to be trying to broker a deal that would see Corbyn resign as leader but continue in some kind of executive capacity.

However, another Labour MP told the Telegraph that, while more talks were planned, "when one side's red line is that Jeremy stays in post and the other side says he has to go, it is impossible to find a compromise".

Potential leadership challenger Owen Smith MP says he is "ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party", but has promised to give the talks "every chance to succeed."

The release of the Chilcot inquiry is believed to have further widened divisions in the party. At an event organised by the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group, speakers "used the findings of the Chilcot report to bolster Corbyn's position and take the fight to his critics in the party", said The Guardian.

In what the newspaper sees as an apparent attack on the main would-be leadership challenger, Angela Eagle, shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett said: "Our party must never again be led by someone who is unrepentant in their record supporting war."

Corbyn issues defiant video as Watson seeks to meet unions

5 July

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a rallying cry to Labour Party members, telling them: "Now is the time to come together."

In a video, the party leader said he wanted to "talk directly" to the membership after the events of the past week, during which many of his shadow cabinet members resigned, MPs supported a motion of no confidence against him and talk of a fresh leadership election has refused to go away.

"Only nine months ago, I was very honoured to be elected leader of our party with 60 per cent of the votes. I have a huge responsibility; I’m carrying out that responsibility," he said.

"The membership has gone up by more than 60,000 in one week. We’re now at the biggest membership we've been, certainly in all of my lifetime." 

Corbyn added that the membership wanted him and Labour MPs to "work together" to achieve a better society.

The video comes as Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson, seeks to meet trade union leaders in what the New Statesman called a "last throw of the dice" to negotiate a settlement between the Parliamentary Labour Party(PLP) and Corbyn.     

But doubt has been cast on his plans, with sources telling the BBC there was nothing scheduled involving the big four unions.

Watson also told Labour MPs at their weekly PLP meeting that it was their duty to exhaust every avenue in pursuit of a settlement before mounting a leadership challenge, reports The Guardian.

However, it was former Labour leader Neil Kinnock who reportedly gained the biggest applause as he told the politicians: "I’m not leaving this party - it’s our party."     

The peer, who himself fought off a leadership challenge by a Corbyn-backed Tony Benn in 1988, won a standing ovation from Labour MPs - thought to be the first ever at a PLP meeting, according to the Huffington Post.

Should a challenge to Corbyn's leadership arise, former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle is believed to have the support of fellow parliamentary members to run.

Eagle, who resigned from the shadow cabinet last week, has said: "I have the support to run and resolve this impasse and I will do so if Jeremy doesn't take action soon."

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