David Miliband ahead among Labour voters, poll suggests

Abbott doing relatively well ++ Rivals point out that voters are not the same as members.

The indomitable Paul Waugh has unearthed figures from the YouGov survey in the weekend's Sunday Times which he says show that David Miliband has "emerged as the front-runner among both voters and party activists".

From the blog:

A new poll also found that Mr Miliband was Londoners' favoured choice for the top job, with Diane Abbott second and his brother Ed trailing in third.

The YouGov survey put him on 22 per cent, Ms Abbott on 11 per cent, Ed Miliband on 9 per cent, Ed Balls on 3 per cent and Andy Burnham on 2 per cent.

Crucially, Miliband Senior was also ahead among Labour voters. He was on 29 per cent, with Mr Balls second on 13 per cent and Ed Miliband third on 12 per cent.

New figures obtained by the Standard also put the former foreign secretary ahead of his rivals in Constituency Labour Party nominations.

With only a week to go before constituency nominations close, he has 107 parties behind him, nearly as many as all his fellow contenders combined.

Brother Ed has 84 local parties backing him, Mr Burnham has 21, Ms Abbott 14 and Mr Balls just nine.

Labour will announce its new leader at its annual conference in September after a one-member, one-vote ballot of party members, union affiliates and MPs and MEPs.

The YouGov/SundayTimes poll found that Mr Miliband was ahead in every social class, gender, age group and region of the country.

Ms Abbott, who has a national profile because of her regular slot on BBC1's This Week programme, was second among virtually every group apart from Labour voters.

Mr Balls, who has been hitting the coalition government hard over the school buildings fiasco, appears to have been rewarded with a spike in support among Labour supporters.

The popularity of Miliband Senior among wider voters also suggests that he may do better than expected in the trade union membership section of the electoral college. However, brother Ed won the backing of the GMB last week and Mr Balls is also expected to do well among unions.

A spokeswoman for Mr Miliband said: "The number of CLP nominations we've garnered suggests that David is actually the grass roots' choice."

One source also said that the local party nominations suggested Mr Balls was "not really in the running among members", a claim his camp disputes.

Three striking elements to this: first, David Miliband is doing well among the grass roots for a man often dismissed as a "Blairite". Second, Diane Abbott is, as I predicted last month, apparently doing better than expected. And third, as supporters of "the two Eds" -- Miliband and Balls -- are pointing out in Westminster, this poll should be taken with a tiny pinch of salt, in that Labour voters, who do not have votes in this contest, are not the same as Labour members, who do.

UPDATE: Although it is true that "voters aren't members", as some rivals to the front-runner, David Miliband, have been pointing out, it is also worth emphasising that the 107 CLP nominations, as mentioned above, are highly significant. They, after all, are Labour members.

Look out for an exclusive interview package with all five candidates in this week's magazine, out on Thursday.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Brexiteers want national sovereignty and tighter borders – but they can't have both

The role of the European Court of Justice is a major sticking point in talks.

Why doesn't Theresa May's counter-offer on the rights of European citizens living and working in Britain pass muster among the EU27? It all comes down to one of the biggest sticking points in the Brexit talks: the role of the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission, under direction from the leaders of member states, wants the rights of the three million living here and of the British diaspora in the EU guaranteed by the European Court. Why? Because that way, the status of EU citizens here or that of British nationals in the EU aren't subject to the whims of a simple majority vote in the legislature.

This is where Liam Fox, as crassly he might have put it, has a point about the difference between the UK and the EU27, being that the UK does not "need to bury" its 20th century history. We're one of the few countries in the EU where political elites get away with saying, "Well, what's the worst that could happen?" when it comes to checks on legislative power. For the leaders of member states, a guarantee not backed up by the European Court of Justice is no guarantee at all.

That comes down to the biggest sticking point of the Brexit talks: rules. In terms of the deal that most British voters, Leave or Remain, want – a non-disruptive exit that allows the British government to set immigration policy – UK politicians can get that, provided they concede on money and rules, ie we continue to follow the directions of the European Court while having no power to set them. Britain could even seek its own trade deals and have that arrangement.

But the problem is that deal runs up against the motivations of the Brexit elite, who are in the main unfussed about migration but are concerned about sovereignty – and remaining subject to the rule of the ECJ without being able to set its parameters is, it goes without saying, a significant loss of sovereignty. 

Can a fudge be found? That the Article 50 process goes so heavily in favour of the EU27 and against the leaving member means that the appetite on the EuCo side for a fudge is limited. 

But there is hope, as David Davis has conceded that there will have to be an international guarantor, as of course there will have to be. If you trade across borders, you need a cross-border referee. If a plane goes up in one country and lands in another, then it is, by necessity, regulated across borders. (That arrangement has also been mooted by Sigmar Gabriel, foreign minister in Angela Merkel's government. But that Gabriel's centre-left party looks likely to be expelled from coalition after the next election means that his support isn't as valuable as many Brexiteers seem to think.)

On the Conservative side, a new EU-UK international body would satisfy the words of May's ECJ red line. On the EU27 side, that the body would, inevitably, take its lead from the treaties of the EU sans Britain and the ECJ would mean that in spirit, Britain would be subject to the ECJ by another name.

But it comes back to the Brexit dilemma. You can satisfy the voters' demand for non-disruptive control of British borders. You can satisfy political demand for sovereignty. But you can't have both. May – and whoever replaces her – will face the same question: who do you disappoint?

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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