Jeremy Corbyn's economic advisers back Owen Smith

Simon Wren-Lewis warns of a "terrifying" drop into electoral irrelevance.

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Two of Jeremy Corbyn's economic advisers have backed his challenger, Owen Smith, after concluding the embattled leader cannot provide proper opposition. 

Simon Wren-Lewis, an Oxford University professor, and David Blanchflower, a former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member, have made their reservations public.

Wren-Lewis was responding to Corbyn supporters who claimed they were rebuilding "a mass social democratic party" on his blog.

He said: "My response is the same as any decent social scientist: show me the evidence that this is what you are doing."

He praised Corbyn's ability to mobilise an activist base of young idealists, but added: "What terrifies MPs, and me, is if this base gets delusions of idealism and grandeur, and saddles them with a leader who will lead the party into electoral irrevelance.

"If you think those fears are wrong, show me your evidence."

Later, responding to comments, he said: "I want Smith to win."

Blanchflower tweeted a link to the article and declared: "Member of econ advisory group joins me in supporting [Owen Smith]." Damningly, he told The Guardian that Smith had been better at consulting businesses and economists in three weeks than Corbyn had in nine months.

Both Blanchflower and Wren-Lewis were appointed to Labour's Economic Advisory Committee, which was created by the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. 

Their declarations come after a poll showed the Conservatives enjoying a 16-point lead over Labour

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.