/Rebecca Long Bailey enters Labour leader race as continuity Corbyn candidate

Rebecca Long Bailey enters Labour leader race as continuity Corbyn candidate

Sir Keir Starmer  

 Sir Kier Starmer was raised by socialist parents who named him after Keir Hardie, the Labour leader’s founder and a colossus of the socialist movement.

The current bookies’ favourite to win the leadership, in Who’s Who he refers to his parents Rodney and Josephine Starmer as ‘Rod and Jo’. 

The shadow Brexit secretary was an out-and-out Remainer who frequently clashed with Corbyn’s inner circle over his overt support for a second referendum.  

The 57-year-old lawyer, a former director of public prosecutions, was kept largely out of sight during the election campaign as the party tried, unsuccessfully, to hold on to Leave seats in the north. 

Distrusted by hard left fans of Mr Corbyn, the Holborn and St Pancras MP set out his stall to be a unity candidate, attacking ‘factionalism’ and saying the party needed to include both Momentum and fans of Tony Blair.

And he dangled a carrot in front of Corbynites, saying he did not want the party to move too far rightwards.

He also played up his humble roots,  with the Oxford-educated lawyer Sir Keir, who owns homes in London and Surrey worth more than £2million, saying in December: ‘I know what it’s like. I actually never had been in any workplace other than a factory until I left home for university. I’d never been in an office.’

He said he did not want a return to the era of Tony Blair, telling the BBC this morning: ‘I don’t need someone else’s name tattooed on my head to make decisions.’

But he might face difficulty if he is seen as not left wing enough, or if the party feels it needs a northern voice to win back seats.  

Emily Thornberry


Emily Thornberry has been dogged by claims of snobbery towards working-class voters for years.

The shadow foreign secretary, whose Islington seat neighbours that of Jeremy Corbyn, was forced to resign from Ed Miliband’s front bench in 2014 after tweeting an apparently mocking image of a house in Rochester with a white van and England flags outside.

Labour came third in the by-election in the constituency, which was won by Ukip. 

After December’s election failure she was embroiled in a furious row with ex-minister Caroline Flint, who lost her Don Vallley seat to the Tories.

Ms Flint claimed Mrs Thornberry told a northern MP privately that Brexit voters were ‘stupid’.

Mrs Thornberry has angrily denied the allegation and threatened to sue Ms Flint.   

A lively performer in Parliament, she has admirers among Labour’s clutch of metropolitan MPs.

Ms Thornberry’s London seat and vocal pro-Remain position could tell against her – although the membership is generally pro-EU. 

Rebecca Long Bailey


The shadow business secretary is seen as the ‘continuity’ candidate, having been closely involved in Labour’s lurch to the Left.

Frequently deployed on media, the 40-year-old’s career has been pushed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who has long tipped her as a future leader.

Entering the contest she set out her stall saying she will keep pushing ‘our socialist agenda’, stressing her hard-Left credentials.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at rival Keir Starmer, she insisted she had not been happy with the party’s Brexit stance in the election campaign, saying it had eroded ‘trust in our communities’. She also admitted Labour should have been ‘tougher’ in addressing a wave of vile anti-Semitism among activists.

But Ms Long Bailey gave a staunch defence of Mr Corbyn, complaining that he had been subjected to ‘unprecedented levels of criticism and attack against his own personal character’ and she felt he was the ‘right man’ with the ‘right ideas’.

Given Labour’s dire need to reconnect with its traditional heartlands, her northern constituency and accent will also be selling points.

Lisa Nandy


The Wigan MP washed her hands of the Corbyn project some time ago – which could be a boon given its humiliating failure in the election.

But the 40-year-old has maintained a high media profile, and has strong left-wing credentials away without being marked on the extreme.

While the leadership desperately tried to stay neutral, she pushed hard for Labour to adopt a more Leave policy and accept the verdict of the referendum. 

Announcing her run she said: ‘Without what were once our Labour heartlands, we will never win power in Westminster … I have heard you loud and clear.’ 

Ms Nandy was involved in unsuccessful talks to support Theresa May’s deal, but has indicated she would not support Boris Johnson’s harder Brexit.

However, some MPs complain that she is ‘lightweight’ and failed to make good on her rhetoric about allowing Brexit to happen. 

Jess Phillips   

The Birmingham Yardley MP is a confident performer in the media and the House of Commons chamber. 

Her straight-talking, no-nonsense manner and Brummie accent have won her many fans and she was one of the first names mentioned as a contender after Mr Corbyn announced he would step down. 

But she had a tricky start to her campaign. She backtracked after she suggested she would campaign to take the UK back into the European Union if she takes over from Jeremy Corbyn

Ms Phillips said that she would ‘have to look at what was going on at the time’ and that ‘if it is more economically viable to be in the European Union then I will fight for that’. 

But the MP for Birmingham Yardley then appeared to perform a screeching U-turn as she said there is ‘no doubt or debate’ that the UK is leaving the bloc and that she did not believe a pledge to rejoin would be in the party’s next manifesto.

The 38-year-old’s willingness to criticise the leader has won her few friends among Corbynistas, with a groundswell of opposition to her taking over.

She has been the target of high levels of online abuse from people across the political spectrum, including death threats. 

She also has no experience of the party’s front bench, something that could either count against her or for her, depending on the views of the members.  

In March she said she would ‘be a good prime minister’. At a time when several moderate MPs had quit Labour she added: ‘I feel like I can’t leave the Labour Party without rolling the dice one more time. I owe it that. But it doesn’t own me. It’s nothing more than a logo if it doesn’t stand for something that I actually care about – it’s just a f***ing rose’. 

Clive Lewis

The Norwich South MP, 48, has managed to ingratiate himself into the Corbyn machine despite a major falling out over Brexit.

In 2017 he quit as shadow business minister after he rebelled against Mr Corbyn to oppose triggering Brexit negotiations.

But he returned the following year to join shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s economic team.

A sexism scandal from 2017 could be a major hindrance in a ladership race likely to feature several female candidates. He was forced to apologise ‘unreservedly’ for telling an activist to ‘get on your knees b****’ at an event during Labour conference.

Footage of a Momentum event in Brighton showed Mr Lewis making the remark to a man on stage as the audience laughed.

The then backbencher admitted his language had been ‘offensive and unacceptable’ after facing a wave of condemnation from colleagues. 

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