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The gift that keeps on giving
Last night Labour’s National Executive Committee voted 18-14 in favour of Jeremy Corbyn automatically gaining a spot on the ballot paper, adding to a continuous string of significant political events. For journalists and those with a keen interest in parliamentary affairs, the last month has proven that politics is the gift that keeps on giving and it looks set to continue.
The NEC is comprised of Labour MPS, union representatives and party members – they met yesterday at 2pm and it was later announced that Jeremy Corbyn would not need the nominations of 20% of Labour MPs & MEPs in order to have his name on the ballot paper. Since the vote of no confidence, this has been strongly contested by his opponents.
In his last leadership campaign Mr Corbyn fought the Labour establishment to win, but this very group is now willing to do just about anything to get rid of him. The leadership crisis has engulfed the Labour party and the run up to NEC event was messy with a brick being thrown through a window of Angela Eagle’s constituency office earlier in the day.
Today Owen Smith, the former shadow work and pensions secretary, will join Eagle in challenging Corbyn’s leadership of the party. He is expected to position himself to the left of Angela Eagle, agreeing with many of Corbyn’s policies but arguing that he is not the right person to lead the party.
Mr Smith, the Pontypridd MP, has met the Labour leader several times in the past few weeks in order to convince him to set down but has failed to do so. Smith is now expected to announce his leadership bid once he has spoken to members within his south Wales constituency. He has told the media that he agreed with the decision made by the NEC, saying that members and not MPs, should decide who will be the next Labour leader.
In another interesting turn of events, the NEC also decided that they would adjust the rules for eligibility in voting for members, stating that Labour Party members need to have been signed up 6 months prior to the leadership election. And the cost of this will now be £25, instead of the £3 last September that saw Jeremy Corbyn win the leadership vote.
The future of Labour is unclear, and any resolution that involves striking a balance between the majority of Labour MPs and their membership will be difficult. With the muscles of the unions on his side, Jeremy Corbyn looks in a strong position to win the leadership contest yet again, but who knows what the future holds?
Today David Cameron will partake in the Prime Minister Question’s at the House of Commons for the final time as PM, facing the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The event that is usually politically charged, is expected to be a little more light-hearted with many paying tributes to Cameron’s time as prime minister.
As his premiership comes to an end, it is inevitable that many will look to make conclusions and judgements of his time at no. 10 – some will praise and others will say the EU referendum carried away all he had gained. After giving he outgoing remarks at Downing Street, Mr Cameron will head to Bucking Palace to formally resign to the Queen – once the formalities are over, Theresa May will become the UK’s 76th Prime Minister. But much of the attention will also be on our soon-to-be second female prime minister.
Theresa May will be sending the elevator back down to other female colleagues as she is expected to ‘promote a string of female Conservative colleagues, including key cabinet positions’. Although Cameron had some significant progress with gender balance, with women accounting for a third of his cabinet ministers, May is expected to go even further. The Guardian has said that the speculation around cabinet positions suggest a female could even be the chancellor of exchequer for the first time – other candidates in the mix are Philip Hammond, who will later today be the former foreign secretary and Chris Grayling, her campaign manager.
Who will fill the cabinet positions is not yet clear but it seems her allies Amber Rudd and Justine Greening are expect to hold key positions. May certainly cannot please everyone, and there may be some surprises in store with old foes and rivals getting cabinet positions as well, possibly a move to unite the party and satisfy both sides of the referendum campaign within the Conservatives. The reshuffle will be announced today after Theresa and her husband have moved into no. 10.
Following up after May’s announcement that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, a spokeswoman from her team has outlined that procedures are already underway to set up the new department with their main purpose being to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union.