Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman at the launch of the party's manifesto during the election campaign. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Harman warns Labour MPs: "We are not commentators, we are campaigners"

Acting leader tells first PLP meeting that party must "throw off any sense of loss or mourning".

In her new role as acting Labour leader, Harriet Harman has just delivered a typically pugnacious speech at the first PLP meeting of the new term. She told the assembled MPs and peers that they had a duty to "challenge and harry" the Tories "every step of the way", urging them to "throw off any sense of loss or mourning". Harman added: "The Tories want to see themselves popping champagne corks in the City, chin up, all cheerful. The SNP want to be strutting down these corridors, they want to see us be miserable and downcast, we are not going to give them that pleasure."

Turning to the forthcoming leadership contest, she declared that those running for election "must be part of our attack team". After much criticism of Labour's laxity in 2010, which many believe allowed the Tories to define the terms of economic debate, Harman's message was that there must be no repeat. She told MPs that candidates must use "every single interview, every single thing that they say" not only to "show why they would be the best leader or deputy" but to "land one on the Tories with the air time they've got". There are, however, some who will question whether attacking the Tories (who, it bears repeating, won a majority) is the priority after such a terrible defeat. 

In her most notable line, Harman warned the party: "We are not commentators, we are campaigners for the next Labour government" (one of Lynton Crosby's favourite dictums). And in an appeal to avoid bloodletting, she told Labour: "We must look deep into our souls, but we mustn't open our veins". 

On the timetable for the leadership election, which will be determined by the NEC on Wednesday, Harman outlined three options: a short contest ending on 31 July, a longer one concluding after the summer recess in September, and an extended one with hustings held at the party conference (as in the case of 2005). The view among MPs is that the second is the likeliest option (there were audible boos from Committee Room 14 when the third was mentioned). By having a leader in place before the conference opens, Labour hopes to avoid the fraught aftermath of the 2010 contest. In a reminder that the party still hasn't come to love Peter Mandelson (as Tony Blair once hoped it would), there was loud applause when, responding to his warnings over the leadership voting system, Harman said: "You don't need to listen to Peter Mandelson, he is not properly factually informed". She confirmed that the contest would take place under the new one-member-one-vote model agreed last year. 

George Eaton is political editor of 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.