Politics

Corbyn hints he will back Long-Bailey for Labour leader at lefty event – ‘Our candidate!’

The veteran left-winger delivered an endorsement for Ms Long-Bailey at a retirement party for former MP Ronnie Campbell. Mr Corbyn, who last month, led the Labour Party to their worst election defeat since before the Second World War even began, referred to Ms Long-Bailey as “our candidate” at the Saturday night event. Mr Corbyn 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 to other candidates in the race – due to end in April when the new leader of the party will be announced – he added Ms Long-Bailey had been “steadfast” during the failed coup by Labour MPs in 2016.

Though Mr Corbyn’s aides said the outgoing leader had not intended to have spoke at the event in an “inclusive way”.

It comes as far-left campaign group Momentum sparked backlash after sending a strange ballot to its 40,000-plus followers that only endorsed Ms Long-Bailey for the role of leader of the Opposition.

Instead of asking their followers which Labour Party leader and deputy candidate they should endorse, they sent a ballot asking “yes” or “no” for just two candidates.

A statement read: “Today Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG) met to discuss the upcoming leadership election.

“After an in-depth discussion they have decided to ballot Momentum members on backing Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader and Angela Rayner for deputy.

“While it is urgent that left candidates receive the support they need, the NCG felt that members must be balloted on such an important issue.

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“They unanimously recommend that our movement backs Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader.

“She is the only viable candidate who can build on our socialist agenda, deepen democracy in the party and unite all the of our heartlands at the next election.”

They also recommended the support of Angela Rayner as deputy leader.

Adding: “We need a leader and deputy leader who trust reach other, work well together and will unite our party in opposition to the Tories.”

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Five MPs initially made the Labour leadership shortlist.

Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

Clive Lewis withdrew just minutes before the deadline and Ms Phillips followed last week.

Rosena Allin Khan, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Ian Murray and Rayner have also succeeded in the deputy leader race.

Sir Keir said: “I’m pleased to have received the support of colleagues in Parliament to make it to the next phase of this contest.

“This has been a good-natured and respectful start to the debate about the future of the Labour Party.

“Lots of important issues have been raised by all the candidates in the race so far.”

Sir Keir had been the favourite to take up the role by some margin. He has since been overtaken by Ms Long-Bailey.

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