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Jeremy Corbyn's Nato stance is a first for a Labour leader

Corbyn's refusal to support collective defence puts him at odds with all of his predecessors. 

It was under the Attlee government in 1949 that the UK co-founded Nato and became one of its senior members. Every Labour leader since has supported the military alliance. But in last night's hustings, Jeremy Corbyn refused to commit to upholding Article 5: the principle of collective defence ("an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies"). 

When asked how the UK would respond if a fellow Nato member state was invaded by Russia, Corbyn replied: "I would want to avoid us getting involved militarily by building up the diplomatic relationships and also trying to not isolate any country in Europe, to bring them up." Pressed on the subject, he added: "I don’t wish to go to war. What I want to do is achieve a world where we don’t need to go to war, where there is no need for it. That can be done."

Corbyn's stance is not especially surprising. During last year's leadership election, he suggested that Nato should have been disbanded ("It's a Cold War organisation, it should have been wound up in 1990 along with the Warsaw Pact"), though he later retreated and stated that there wasn't "an appetite as a whole for people to leave". But his stance on Article 5, which echoes that of Donald Trump, has resurrected the divide.

Owen Smith, his rival candidate, replied: "Were there an invasion of a Nato state by Russia, I am clear that we would need to come to the aid of that state militarily. I believe in us supporting one another, I believe in us working against countries. And the nature of that accord, that treaty, is to do that." He added: "We shouldn't be anything other than robust in facing up to Putin, especially if there were military action against a Nato country." Wes Streeting MP has described Corbyn's stance as "a gross betrayal of Labour's internationalist values". 

As I noted earlier, no other party leader has ever adopted this position. Though it is often claimed that Labour's 1983 manifesto pledged Nato withdrawal, it actually stated: "Labour believes in collective security. The next Labour government will maintain its support for Nato". It is for reasons such as these that 172 Labour MPs voted no confidence in their leader last month and 65 resigned from his frontbench. Corbyn will now find it even harder to persuade any to return in the likely event of his re-election.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Will the Brexit Cabinet talks end in a “three baskets” approach?

The joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. 

It's decision day in the Brexit talks. Again.

The Brexit inner Cabinet will meet to hammer out not its final position, but the shape of its negotiating position. The expected result: an agreement on an end state in which the United Kingdom agrees it will follow EU regulations as it were still a member, for example on aviation; will agree to follow EU objectives but go about them in its own way, for example on recycling, where the British government wants to do more on plastic and less on glass; and finally, in some areas, it will go its way completely, for instance on financial services. Or as it has come to be known in Whitehall, the "three baskets" approach.

For all the lengthy run-up, this bit isn't expected to be difficult: the joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. There are two difficulties: the first is that the EU27 won't play ball, and the second is that MPs will kick off when it emerges that their preferred basket is essentially empty.

The objections of the EU27 are perhaps somewhat overwritten. The demands of keeping the Irish border open, maintaining Europol and EU-wide defence operations means that in a large number of areas, a very close regulatory and political relationship is in everyone's interests. But everyone knows that in order for the Conservative government to actually sign the thing, there is going to have to be some divergence somewhere.

The bigger problem is what happens here at home when it turns out that the third basket - that is to say, full regulatory autonomy - is confined to fishing and the "industries of the future". The European Research Group may have a few more letters left to send yet.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.