David Cameron appoints the Sun's deputy political editor as his press secretary

Graeme Wilson will take up the post, with Gabby Bertin becoming director of external relations.

David Cameron has hired the Sun's deputy political editor Graeme Wilson as his new press secretary. The Spectator's Coffee House reports that he will replace Gabby Bertin, who will become director of external relations when she returns from maternity leave. According to James Forsyth, she will be "responsible for forging – and maintaining Downing Street’s – relations with business, pressure groups and charities." The well-regarded Wilson should help to improve Cameron's relations with the press, which have suffered since the departure of Andy Coulson and his replacement by the broadcast-focused Craig Oliver. 

After the hiring of Lynton Crosby as campaign manager in November 2012 and former Obama staffer Jim Messina as a campaign strategy adviser earlier this month, the appointments are further evidence of the Tories getting battle-ready for 2015. Labour is shortly due to recruit a deputy director of communications and a replacement for Tom Watson as campaign co-ordinator. But the appointments will add to the sense in Westminster that the Tories have stolen a march on Miliband's party. 

David Cameron arrives at 10 Downing Street earlier today after returning from his summer holiday to respond to the Syria crisis. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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