Labour’s leadership hopefuls must write two victory speeches they may well never deliver

The harsh timing of the NEC’s announcement.

Spare a thought for the Labour leadership contenders. Not only are they having to endure some 56 hustings in total over this long summer (while they compete with a brand new coalition government for media attention) but, a source in one camp has just told me, they face another ordeal altogether.

Voting takes place across the different elements of the party and its affiliated bodies between 16 August and 22 September, with the result announced by the party's National Executive Committee on 25 September at the Labour Party's annual conference. The timing means that any candidate who seriously thinks he or she may win must prepare two speeches -- acceptance and address to the conference as leader -- that they may not get to deliver. Ouch.

Says my source: "It was OK in the old days, when the party would just tip off the new leader in advance, but there is no way the NEC will do that now."

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Forget gaining £350m a week, Brexit would cost the UK £300m a week

Figures from the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility reveal the negative economic impact Brexit would have. 

Even now, there are some who persist in claiming that Boris Johnson's use of the £350m a week figure was accurate. The UK's gross, as opposed to net EU contribution, is precisely this large, they say. Yet this ignores that Britain's annual rebate (which reduced its overall 2016 contribution to £252m a week) is not "returned" by Brussels but, rather, never leaves Britain to begin with. 

Then there is the £4.1bn that the government received from the EU in public funding, and the £1.5bn allocated directly to British organisations. Fine, the Leavers say, the latter could be better managed by the UK after Brexit (with more for the NHS and less for agriculture).

But this entire discussion ignores that EU withdrawal is set to leave the UK with less, rather than more, to spend. As Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, notes in a letter in today's Times: "The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15bn per year - or almost £300m per week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350m weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it. Those are the numbers and forecasts which the government has adopted. It is perhaps surprising that members of the government are suggesting rather different figures."

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, to which Emmerson refers, are shown below (the £15bn figure appearing in the 2020/21 column).

Some on the right contend that a blitz of tax cuts and deregulation following Brexit would unleash  higher growth. But aside from the deleterious economic and social consequences that could result, there is, as I noted yesterday, no majority in parliament or in the country for this course. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.