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‘Yvette will beat Jeremy to Labour leadership’, claims Liam Byrne

‘Yvette will beat Jeremy to Labour leadership’, claims Liam Byrne

🕔07.Sep 2015

Yvette Cooper will beat favourite Jeremy Corbyn to become Labour party leader, Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne has forecast.

He expects Ms Cooper to benefit from fast-growing support in London and the south east and to pick up second preference votes from supporters of Liz Kendall – enabling her to pip Mr Corbyn at the post.

Writing on his website, Mr Byrne claimed the outcome of the leadership race changed after a well-received “breakthrough” speech by Ms Cooper in Manchester where she said Mr Corbyn could not win a General Election and attempted to present herself as the only radical contender.

This was closely followed by a speech urging Britain to respond more quickly to the European refugee crisis, creating more positive headlines for Ms Cooper.

Mr Byrne, one of New Labour’s most cerebral thinkers, spoke of a “huge surge in members who tell us they are planning to vote for Yvette”.

In a thinly disguised attack on Mr Corbyn’s hard left credentials, Mr Byrne added: “Members want a strong leader. Crucially, they want a leader on the front foot, not the back foot.

“They know the Tories want to dismantle the state – and the Labour Party. Members want someone who can take on Cameron and Osborne – they don’t want a leader trapped, ensnared and left defending positions from the past.”

He was speaking as it emerged that with less than a week left in the leadership contest only half of the 550,000 Labour members and supporters registered to take part have returned their ballot papers.

Mr Byrne suggested that Andy Burnham, regarded by many as second favourite after Mr Corbyn, could not win because his backing is limited to the north and he would not generate enough support in London.

He continued: “In London and the south east, it’s now a two horse race between Yvette and Jeremy. No-one else is even close.

“This is important because London and the south east are home to almost a third of members. And here, my colleague Andy Burnham is trailing in fourth. It’s impossible to win from that position. Repeat: impossible.”

Most of the MPs who nominated Ms Kendall are putting Ms Cooper as their second preference, according to Mr Byrne.

“Eighty five percent of Liz supporters are voting Yvette second – and indeed many are switching to Yvette as their first preference choice.

“So: the race has been transformed in the last ten days.

“Members hold the balance of power. It’s a two horse race – and overwhelmingly both Liz and Andy supporters have Yvette as their second preference.

“That’s why I think Yvette is going to win.”

Mr Corbyn’s campaign team insist their man will be named Labour leader when the result of the ballot is announced this Saturday. A spokesman told The Times it would be “a real shock” if Mr Corbyn did not win, and added that most people intending to vote have already done so.


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