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Tom Watson plans "last throw of the dice" to achieve Jeremy Corbyn's departure

Labour's deputy leader tells MPs that he will meet trade union leaders tomorrow to try and negotiate a settlement. 

Tom Watson is to meet trade union leaders tomorrow in a final attempt to negotiate the departure of Jeremy Corbyn. "A last throw of the dice" was how Labour's deputy leader described the move at the first Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting since MPs' vote of no confidence in Corbyn. Watson warned that "the window is closing" for an agreement, a sentiment shared by putative challengers Angela Eagle and Owen Smith whom he met today. 

The deputy leader held a 20-minute meeting with Corbyn this morning and urged him to resign having lost colleagues' backing. Three MPs who backed the leader in last week's confidence vote (Pat Glass, Liz McInnes and Andrew Smith) have since called for his departure. Fabian Hamilton, who abstained, has also demanded Corbyn's resignation. 

Members' support alone, Watson warned, was not enough. But a spokesman for the deputy leader said Corbyn "gave no indication that he would resign". Unless at least some of the "big four" unions - Unite, Unison, the GMB and the CWU - move against Corbyn, a leadership contest looks inevitable. 

The most dramatic moment of the evening was provided by Neil Kinnock, the man who defeated Labour's far-left in the 1980s. In a furiously impassioned speech, the former leader moved MPs to tears as he declared that he would not allow the party to split after 60 years as a member. "We are not leaving our party. We are going to fight and we are going to win!" he cried, thumping the table as he spoke.

Kinnock emphasised that Labour chose to take "the parliamentary route to socialism" in 1918, not the revolutionary one. He also made a crack at the expense of Dennis Skinner, who noted that voters in supermarkets told MPs that Ed Miliband was unelectable. "Apply your supermarket test to Corbyn!" he quipped. Whether or not the Labour leader passes that test, his allies are confident he will pass the members' one. 

Update: This piece wrongly described Lyn Brown and Rob Marris (who abstained) as having supported Jeremy Corbyn in the no confidence vote. The error has been corrected.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Daniel Hannan harks back to the days of empire - the Angevin Empire

Did the benign rule of some 12th century English kings make western France vote Macron over Le Pen?

I know a fair amount about British politics; I know a passable amount about American politics, too. But, as with so many of my fellow Britons, in the world beyond that, I’m lost.

So how are we, the monolingual Anglophone opinionators of the world, meant to interpret a presidential election in a country where everyone is rude enough to conduct all their politics in French?

Luckily, here’s Daniel Hannan to help us:

I suppose we always knew Dan still got a bit misty eyed at the notion of the empire. I just always thought it was the British Empire, not the Angevin one, that tugged his heartstrings so.

So what exactly are we to make of this po-faced, historically illiterate, geographically illiterate, quite fantastically stupid, most Hannan-y Hannan tweet of all time?

One possibility is that this was meant as a serious observation. Dan is genuinely saying that the parts of western France ruled by Henry II and sons in the 12th century – Brittany, Normandy, Anjou, Poitou, Aquitaine – remain more moderate than those to the east, which were never graced with the touch of English greatness. This, he is suggesting, is why they generally voted for Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen.

There are a number of problems with this theory. The first is that it’s bollocks. Western France was never part of England – it remained, indeed, a part of a weakened kingdom of France. In some ways it would be more accurate to say that what really happened in 1154 was that some mid-ranking French nobles happened to inherit the English Crown.

Even if you buy the idea that England is the source of all ancient liberties (no), western France is unlikely to share its political culture, because it was never a part of the same polity: the two lands just happened to share a landlord for a while.

As it happens, they didn’t even share it for very long. By 1215, Henry’s youngest son John had done a pretty good job of losing all his territories in France, so that was the end of the Angevins. The English crown reconquered  various bits of France over the next couple of centuries, but, as you may have noticed, it hasn’t been much of a force there for some time now.

At any rate: while I know very little of French politics, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the similarities between yesterday's electoral map and the Angevin Empire were a coincidence. I'm fairly confident that there have been other factors which have probably done more to shape the French political map than a personal empire that survived for the length of one not particularly long human life time 800 years ago. Some wars. Industrialisation. The odd revolution. You know the sort of thing.

If Daniel Hannan sucks at history, though, he also sucks at geography, since chunks of territory which owed fealty to the English crown actually voted Le Pen. These include western Normandy; they also include Calais, which remained English territory for much longer than any other part of France. This seems rather to knacker Hannan’s thesis.

So: that’s one possibility, that all this was an attempt to make serious point; but, Hannan being Hannan, it just happened to be a quite fantastically stupid one.

The other possibility is that he’s taking the piss. It’s genuinely difficult to know.

Either way, he instantly deleted the tweet. Because he realised we didn’t get the joke? Because he got two words the wrong way round? Because he realised he didn’t know where Calais was?

We’ll never know for sure. I’d ask him but, y’know, blocked.

UPDATE: Breaking news from the frontline of the internet: 

It. Was. A. Joke.

My god. He jokes. He makes light. He has a sense of fun.

This changes everything. I need to rethink my entire world view. What if... what if I've been wrong, all this time? What if Daniel Hannan is in fact one of the great, unappreciated comic voices of our time? What if I'm simply not in on the joke?

What if... what if Brexit is actually... good?

Daniel, if you're reading this – and let's be honest, you are definitely reading this – I am so sorry. I've been misunderstanding you all this time.

I owe you a pint (568.26 millilitres).

Serious offer, by the way.

 

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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