Corbyn’s court case, Universal Credit U-turn and a speedy leadership contest

Sienna Rodgers
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“I don’t want to see the Labour Party tied up in court proceedings. I want to see the Labour Party out there campaigning,” Keir Starmer told Sky News yesterday. But he was speaking as Corbyn v Evans reached the high court, with a hearing in which Jeremy Corbyn’s lawyer made the case for the forced disclosure of documents. The former Labour leader says these would prove there was a deal over his readmission to the party, and his team say this is essential to their argument that party officers acted in bad faith, contrary to Labour’s rulebook. Labour’s barrister, however, said there was no deal and no such documents as there were “no notes” and “no minutes” from the meeting between Starmer, his allies and Corbyn’s representatives. See further details in my write-up. The judgment on the pre-action disclosure is expected later in the week: either way, the substantive case will go ahead.

Both of Labour’s opposition day motions passed with no votes against, as Tories were told to abstain. On Universal Credit, six Conservative MPs defied the whip to vote with Labour. This is perhaps an indication of the declining power of whips, but it also sounds like the government thinks it can get away with an unchanged approach to free school meals yet a rethink on Universal Credit will be required. Downing Street was already hinting at a U-turn on Monday morning: although Dominic Raab had just said the boost was “always a temporary measure”, Allegra Stratton told journalists: “We haven’t made a decision. We will be coming forward in due course.” Rishi Sunak is worried about the cost of extending the uplift, apparently. Imagine his shock when he finds out that Deloitte consultants are being paid nearly £1m every day.

The super speedy Scottish Labour leadership contest has seen Awas Sarwar take an early lead with the backing of many councillors and parliamentarians, plus Usdaw. We will be told of Monica Lennon’s endorsements today. The clearest dividing line between the two candidates was summed up by Lennon when she reiterated her position on independence, saying: “We can’t just wish away the constitutional issue… The people of Scotland should have a referendum if they want one.” Nominations close at noon, and the hustings period will open until February 9th when voting begins. It puts into perspective the decision to spend three months on the UK leadership and deputy leadership contests last year, and an incredible four months on elections for Labour’s ruling body. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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