David Miliband steams ahead in nominations race

Odds-on favourite takes the lead with 48 nominations.

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Labour has just updated the nominations counter on its website and, as expected, David Miliband has opened up a clear lead over his rivals. The former foreign secretary has now been nominated by 48 MPs, up from 37 yesterday. His brother, Ed, who led the race on Tuesday, remains on 41 nominations. You'll find a list of all the nominations here.

Both brothers are now coming under pressure to call on their supporters to nominate alternative candidates, in a bid to ensure someone who isn't called Miliband makes it on to the ballot paper. It would be rather embarrassing for Labour to have a coronation followed by a leadership contest restricted to one family.

Ed Balls, who has already been forced to deny claims that he will struggle to achieve the required 33 nominations, has added just one supporter, taking him to a total of 15. Andy Burnham, who officially launched his campaign today, rises two to ten nominations. And John McDonnell and Diane Abbott continue to lag behind with no nominations.

There are still 144 nominations to play for, so I'd be surprised if at least Balls or Burnham doesn't make it on to the ballot. We'll get the next update from Labour HQ at 5.30 this afternoon.

Incidentally, those adding up public declarations of support to nominations to form a "grand total" should remember that the former do not always translate into the latter. For instance, many of those members who pledged publicly to support David Davis in the 2005 Conservative leadership election ended up nominating an alternative candidate.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

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.