PLP anger, 10 Tory candidates and possible moves to block no deal

Sienna Rodgers
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Last night, Labour MPs expressed their frustrations over Brexit and antisemitism at the regular Parliamentary Labour Party meeting – the first since the European and Peterborough election results. By all accounts, Jeremy Corbyn faced heavy criticism at one the most heated ever gatherings. Kicking off with an apology from newcomer Lisa Forbes for her social media activity, it saw MPs raise numerous complaints including the failure to tackle antisemitism and harassment, ongoing equivocation on Brexit and Emily Thornberry not being chosen to deputise at PMQs.

After the leader’s response to those grievances was interrupted by the division bell and proceedings came to an end, his spokesperson said it was “what we would expect” as the PLP is “generally quite a robust meeting”. But the level of backbench anger towards the leadership is particularly high right now.

The PLP meeting came just after the Tories confirmed that ten candidates (not Sam Gyimah, who pulled out) won enough initial support to formally enter the leadership contest. Campaign launches yesterday allowed Matt Hancock, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove to get widespread coverage of their various fantasy plans for delivering Brexit. Outsiders/no-hopers Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Rory Stewart will offer their opening pitches today.

Missing from that list is frontrunner Boris Johnson, who hasn’t done a single broadcast interview so far. Other candidates are getting frustrated. This morning, Hancock argued on Radio 4 that all runners “should be open to scrutiny” and “come on the Today programme”. They know that Johnson’s status as favourite-to-win will only be at risk once he starts talking.

For now, though, it looks like the hard Brexiteer is on his way to 10 Downing Street. LabourList readers believe he’ll be tough to beat, so how can Labour win the next election against the most popular Tory politician? Tom Copley, as a Labour member of the London Assembly who questioned Johnson on his poor decisions when he was mayor, has a few tips for how to get under his skin.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s parliamentary activities, Westminster is keeping a close eye on Labour. We don’t know the details yet, but it seems the opposition is planning more than the usual non-binding stuff that is typically ignored by this government. Soft Brexiteer Nick Boles recently hinted that MPs had a plan for blocking no deal – could tomorrow afternoon get the ball rolling on that scheme?

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