Diane Abbott enters Labour leadership race

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP makes surprise announcement that she will be the sixth person t

Diane Abbott has thrown her hat into the ring, announcing that she will stand for the Labour leadership.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington told the BBC's Today programme that her bid was "serious", and would offer Labour a choice, given the similarities between the other candidates.

This unexpected addition certainly brings something different to a race which, until now, was populated mainly by white, Oxbridge-educated men in their forties -- Ed and David Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham all fit the bill, while John McDonnell is 59, and went to Brunel.

Abbott says she is confident that she will gain the necessary backing of 33 Labour MPs by 27 May, expecting support from MPs on the left of the party, and from women MPs.

Abbott -- a 57-year-old Cambridge graduate -- was the UK's first black female MP in 1987, and remained the only one for ten years.

Quite apart from being a black woman entering the fray in a very white, male political setting, she represents a more left-leaning set of ideas than the candidates already in the running, many of whom are still tarred by their lingering association with Blair/Brown.

She is generally to the left of New Labour, and as a long-standing member of the party's Socialist Campaign Group, she stands a chance of garnering support from those MPs disappointed that Jon Cruddas ruled himself out.

If nothing else, this looks set to be an interesting contest.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.