It’s Miliband v Miliband

Ed Miliband now certain to run for the leadership.

The Sun reports that Ed Miliband is certain to stand against his brother for the Labour leadership. It looks like the pair have decided that a Granita-style pact would create more problems than it solves.

They are almost certainly right. Much of the angst of the New Labour years could have been avoided if Gordon Brown had simply been beaten by Tony Blair (and possibly John Prescott) in an open and democratic leadership election.

The media will be determined to portray this as a left v right contest, but the reality is far more complex. David Miliband, as Charlie Falconer reminded us on last night's Question Time (where he was joined by our own Mehdi Hasan), does not consider himself as a Blairite.

Many know that David served as head of the No 10 policy unit during the Blair years, far fewer that he left because he was considered insufficiently reformist. His commitment to social justice should not be doubted: in an interview with the NS editor, Jason Cowley, he memorably spoke of the "red thread" that should run through both domestic and foreign policy.

Yet Ed remains a more unambiguously left-wing figure, at ease with the party's history and traditions in a way few others are. He is also exceptionally popular with the grass roots of the party, as evidenced by the creation of an unofficial site urging him to stand. With the thoughtful Jon Cruddas also expected to enter the race shortly, this promises to be a fascinating contest.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.