Labour leadership: where do the candidates stand?

As the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn gets under way, we look at the hopefuls’ positions from Brexit to the climate crisis

Clive Lewis

Clive Lewis

Brexit: Lewis has been one of the most vocal pro-remain campaigners in the parliamentary Labour party, as part of the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit campaign.

Economy: The former shadow cabinet minister has put forward the “economic and cultural case for migration”, and the need to “build solidarity between our diverse communities through greater social and economic equality”.

Foreign policy: Lewis is a former territorial army office who held the shadow defence brief until he said he would not try to change the policy on Trident. He is an internationalist who spoke out fiercely against military action in Syria in 2015, criticising the “lust for war” as someone who “had my fill on my short tour of Afghanistan of death and mayhem”.

Climate: Lewis is a committed campaigner on the climate crisis and has urged progressive parties such as Labour and the Greens to work together on the issue.

View of Corbynism: Lewis is certainly a candidate on the left of the party and was once very closely associated with the leader. He has, however, since said Corbyn did not go far enough to democratise the party by giving members a say and criticised his “prevarication and lack of leadership” over Brexit.

Rebecca Long Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Brexit: Long-Bailey was never one of those in shadow cabinet pushing for a more pro-remain position, but she has said little on the subject since the election. She wrote in the Guardian that the party’s position was a mistake, but did not discuss what it should have been. “The country was sharply divided by Brexit, and our compromise solution satisfied too few,” she said.

Economy: Her campaign has focused on the anxiety she felt as a child seeing the instability of her father’s work in Thatcherite Britain. She has said she wants to invest in public services and adopt Corbyn’s transformative agenda for the economy with green jobs and an end to falling living standards.

Foreign policy: Long-Bailey has spoken in favour of patriotism combined with internationalism, saying the trade unions have a proud history in this regard. On the Iran crisis, she has called on Boris Johnson to stop “outsourcing our foreign policy to Donald Trump”.

Climate: As shadow business secretary, she led the development of the party’s green new deal policy and has put tackling the climate crisis at the heart of her pitch “through investment in good, unionised jobs and the re-industrialisation of our regions and nations”.

View of Corbynism: Long-Bailey is considered the continuity candidate. She is backed by many of Corbyn’s key allies and has stressed that the party’s radical platform at the election was “principled and popular”. There is a possibility, however, that another candidate from the left, Ian Lavery, could challenge her for that role. He is expected to make up his mind in the next 48 hours about whether to stand.

Lisa Nandy

Lisa Nandy

Brexit: Nandy has been one of the most critical voices on the party’s Brexit policy in favour of a second referendum. She said offering a softer Brexit was the “only way that you would have prevented the scale of the collapse” in seats across the north, Midlands and Wales.

Economy: Her pitch has been all about returning economic prosperity to Britain’s towns, making sure they have good public services and jobs. She has said offers such as free broadband failed to resonate when a pledge to improve bus services could have been much more effective.

Foreign policy: Nandy has made the case in recent days for the UK to rebuild its influence in the world and said Trump’s actions have created a “really, really dangerous moment for the entire world and for Britain in particular”.

Climate: Nandy is a former shadow energy and climate change secretary who knows the brief well and is committed to tackling the climate crisis.

View of Corbynism: Nandy has been critical of the manifesto and Brexit policy, but has also said Labour must not abandon the radicalism of the Corbyn era. She is considered to be on the soft left of the party and has stressed her socialist credentials, but some Corbyn allies may eye her with suspicion for having backed Owen Smith’s leadership challenge in 2016.

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips

Brexit: Phillips caused a stir over the weekend by saying she would not rule out campaigning to rejoin the EU if Brexit turns out to be a disaster. She later appeared to soften that position, saying: “I can’t see a campaign to rejoin winning support in the next Labour manifesto.”

Economy: The backbencher has identified the problems that Labour needs to fix as “economic insecurity and Tory cuts of the past decade that haven’t just increased poverty but have increased despair”. She criticised the party’s manifesto, however, for offering policy after policy that “promised the moon” without overall economic credibility.

Foreign policy: Phillips criticised Johnson’s absence at the start of the Iran crisis, and called Trump’s actions “reckless and dangerous”. “There seems to be no plan in place for what will follow,” she said.

Climate: Phillips has spoken of her commitment to tackling the climate crisis and attended the school strike for climate in Birmingham last year.

View of Corbynism: Phillips is a long-term critic of Corbyn and is unlikely to win many votes among his staunch supporters.

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer

Brexit: Starmer was instrumental in shifting Labour’s position toward a second referendum, but has since said he was simply in favour of the party taking a stronger position one way or the other. He also said Labour did not do enough to tackle the Conservatives’ central election pledge to “get Brexit done” and now believes the debate is over.

Economy: He has focused discussion of the economy on Brexit, saying Labour must work to ensure that any Brexit trade deal with the EU “protects our economy, protects our jobs, and working standards, the environment and consumers”.

Foreign policy: Starmer’s recent remarks on foreign policy stress that he “profoundly believes in peace, reconciliation, human rights and collaboration across borders”. He has called in recent days for the international community to “engage, not isolate Iran”.

Climate: The shadow Brexit secretary has said tackling the climate crisis will be central to his campaign, and has committed to pushing ahead with Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for a green new deal.

View of Corbynism: Starmer has positioned himself broadly on the left in the hope of picking up pro-Corbyn votes among the membership. He argues that the party should not veer too far from the radicalism of the past few years.

Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry

Brexit: Thornberry, who once dressed as an EU flag, was a key shadow cabinet member arguing for the party to promise a second referendum and campaign to remain.

Economy: Thornberry has said Labour took the wrong approach by throwing so many big spending pledges into the manifesto. She said the party should have explained better how it would pay for it all and worked harder to gain a reputation for economic credibility.

Foreign policy: The shadow foreign secretary has a strong grip on her brief and took on her former counterpart Johnson over his failure over the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case. She has also criticised Trump over Iran. On her willingness to take military action, she said: “If we are at risk of imminent attack then of course we will always defend ourselves.”

Climate: Thornberry made it one of her new year wishes for the world to heed the warning of the Australian bushfires on climate change and for Britain to lead the world in achieving a zero-carbon economy.

View of Corbynism: Thornberry has been very loyal to Corbyn over the years, but declined this weekend to say he had been a good leader. She said only that he was a man of “many, many talents”.


Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

The GuardianTramp

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