The pressure rises on Theresa May

Today's select committee hearing could determine the Home Secretary's future.

It's no exaggeration to say that today's events could determine Theresa May's political future. Brodie Clark, the former head of the UK Border Force, who has accused the Home Secretary of misleading parliament over the border control row, is appearing before the home affairs select committee at 11:30. In the statement he made when he resigned last Wednesday he said that May was "wrong" to accuse him of taking "additional measures" beyond those agreed with ministers to reduce risk-based passport checks.

He added:

The Home Secretary also implies that I relaxed the controls in favour of queue management. I did not. Despite pressure to reduce queues, including from ministers, I can never be accused of compromising security for convenience. This summer saw queues of over three hours (non EU) on a regular basis at Heathrow and I never once contemplated cutting our essential controls to ease the flow.

Significantly, however, May's account is supported by Rob Whiteman, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency (of which the Border Force is part) and Clark's old boss. Whiteman, who is also appearing before the committee today at 12pm, claimed that Clark admitted to him on 2 November that "on a number of occasions this year he authorised his staff to go further than Ministerial instruction". He has since faced claims that he was "strongarmed" into blaming Clark by May's officials, a charge that he will be forced to answer today.

So long as Whiteman sticks to his story, May's position should be secure. But the pressure on the Home Secretary is still rising. Leaked emails from the UK Border Agency suggest that thousand of passengers arriving on private jets were allowed into the country without any passport checks. All of which suggests that May has even more questions to answer than we thought.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Former Labour leader Ed Miliband tells Jeremy Corbyn: "I would have gone"

Jeremy Corbyn's predecessor broke his long silence to say the leader's position was "untenable". 

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has swung his weight behind the campaign to oust Jeremy Corbyn after describing his position as "untenable" and declared he would have resigned already.

His intervention is seen as significant, because since losing the general election in 2015, Miliband has taken a step back and refused to publicly criticise his successor. 

But the day after Labour MPs voted they had no confidence in Corbyn, the former leader has finally spoken. 

Miliband told BBC Radio 4's World at One that his position was "untenable". 

He said:

"We are at a time of acute national crisis, a crisis I haven't known in my political lifetime, probably the biggest crisis for the country since World War II.

"At that moment we in the Labour party need to think about the country.

"I've supported Jeremy Corbyn all the way along from the moment he was elected because I thought it was absolutely the right thing to do. A lot of what he stands for is very important. But I've relcutantly reached the conclusion that his position is untenable."

 

But with Corbyn already defying the opinion of most of his parliamentary colleagues, this alone is unlikely to have much effect. It's what Miliband says next that is crucial.

Corbyn has argued the vote of no confidence against him was unconstitutional. Miliband thinks otherwise. He said: "You are the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the party in parliament and the leader of the party in the country. Some people are saying this is unconstitional. In our constitution it says if a fifth of MPs support another candidate there is another contest."

And he implied it should not even get to a leadership contest: "No doubt that will follow if Corbyn decides to stay. but the question then for him is what is the right thing for the country and the party and the causes he stands for."

Miliband also hit out at accusations of a conspiracy to oust Corbyn:

"I've never been called a Blairite. I'm not a plotter. I'm somone who cares deeply anpout this country, deeply about my party, deeply about the causes I think Jeremy and I care about. I think the best thing on all of those criteria is that he stands down."

Asked what he would have done in the same situation, he replied: "I would have gone.

"One of the reasons I'm speaking out is because of what people are saying about this proceess. If you look at the people saying Jeremy should go, it's not people on one wing of the Labour Party.

"I had my troubles with certain people in the Labour Party. Some of them ideological, some on other issues, but this is not ideological." Some of Corbyn's ideas could continue under a new leader, he suggested. 

Miliband shared his views just minutes after his former rival, the Prime Minister David Cameron, told Corbyn it was not in the national interest for him to remain as leader. "I would say, for heaven's sake man, go," he told the Opposition leader at Prime Minister's Questions. 

Although the Brexit vote was a devastating blow for the PM, the aftermath has unleashed equal waves of turmoil for the Labour Party.

Corbyn's refusal to resign sparked a series of resignations from the shadow cabinet. Unmoved, he replaced them. Meanwhile Momentum, Corbyn's grassroots political organisation, held a rally in support outside Parliament. 

On Tuesday, Labour MPs voted 172 to 40 in favour of a no confidence motion, which paves the way for a leadership challenge.

But Corbyn described the vote as unconstitutional and pledged he "would not betray" the Labour Pary members, who gave him a sweeping mandate in 2015.