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Will Jeremy Corbyn agree to step aside in Islington North?

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Trade unionists are hatching a plot to replace Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North with one of their own (and Angela Rayner’s “soulmate”): Sam Tarry. One of the conspirators murmured the plan is to persuade the exiled former Labour leader – who’s about to turn 74 – to stand down rather than run as an indy and make way for a younger member of the Socialist Campaign Group.

Tarry, 40, sacked from the front bench by Keir Starmer for speaking on a striking rail workers’ picket line, is seeking a new berth after deselection in Ilford South (where local members preferred a local council leader, Jas Athwal, who was controversially blocked in 2019). Comrade Tarry is a former TSSA transport union officer and Corbyn leadership organiser, and his anointment should also avoid left-wing unions picking a side should Jezza fight the party.

[See also: Penny Mordaunt’s coronation sword-bearing cuts a sharp contrast with fellow Tories]

Jeremy Hunt is increasingly worried he’ll be a Blue Wall brick that gets dislodged by Ed Davey’s Lib Dems, whispered an ex-cabinet colleague who described the nation’s credit-card holder as “terrified” since this month’s council contests. South West Surrey’s exasperated locals have clocked that the Chancer of the Exchequer condemns dirty water companies polluting local rivers despite failing to vote for an amendment outlawing sewage dumping. Hunt may fear he’s swimming against a tide.

The cost-of-living crisis isn’t starting at home for Boris Johnson, new owner of a £3.8m moated mansion with guest cottage and tennis court. The arrival of the deposed king of the world and his Carrie Antoinette isn’t triggering universal glee. One villager in the South Oxfordshire community sniffed that he peered over the wall and was immediately joined by a police van.

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Plaid Cymru is in turmoil after “son of destiny” Adam Price turned into the father of failure. The Welsh nat leader’s enforced resignation – following a report exposing a culture of bullying and sexism in his party – is a spanner in the works. Word is Price was sniffing a Westminster return, with Liz Saville-Roberts, Plaid’s boss in the Commons, heading the other way to the Senedd in 2026. Now Rhun ap Iorwerth, who was looking to swap his Senedd seat for SW1, wants to stay and replace Price in the Welsh Parliament. Best laid plans and all that.

Suspended by the Conservative Party since a Carlton Club drunken rampage triggered Boris Johnson’s toppling, former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher is off the booze. This month, instead of writing about wine inthe Critic magazine, he extols the joys of buying £145 cologne in Fortnum & Mason. Keeping it real in a cost-of-living crisis.

[See also: The New Statesman’s left power list]

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This article appears in the 17 May 2023 issue of the New Statesman, The Left Power List