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Labour membership to hit 600,000

A further surge in Labour membership has further bolstered Jeremy Corbyn's place at the top of the party.

Labour membership is on course to hit 600,000, a half-century peak, after a second successive day in which more than 100,000 people have applied to become party members.

In the ongoing struggle over Jeremy Corbyn's position, both loyalists and rebels have been recruiting. Corbyn's allies have done so via Momentum, the continuation of his leadership campaign, while  “Saving Labour”, an anti-Corbyn group, has secured the support of several high-profile celebrity supporters, including Jason Isaacs and JK Rowling. As far as social media presence is concerned, Saving Labour has over 4,000 likes at time of writing, while Momentum has 53,808. 

Local parties – who are responsible for vetting new members in the first instance – report that the bulk of joiners who have responded to welcome emails or messages from MPs are strongly opposed to any attempt to remove Corbyn, in a boost to the Labour leader after a prolonged attempt to dislodge him. However, the bulk of new members' voting intentions remain unclear, as most applicants have yet to have their applications rubber-stamped.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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