At a Downtown event this week, the former Chief Executive of Manchester Council, Sir Howard Bernstein, identified Yvette Cooper as a potential Labour leader.
Even before that happens, she could make a major contribution to British politics, by threatening to delay our departure from the EU. The Labour MP wants to delay Brexit if no deal is struck by the end of February. Her party leadership are considering backing it even though there is no love lost between party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper.
This prospect is even beginning to worry boneheaded Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg who is now suggesting it is only the Northern Irish backstop that is stopping him from voting for May’s Deal.
The performance of Remain MPs has lacked the intensity of the European Research Group over the last few years, but at last they are stirring into action. The prospect of delaying or losing Brexit may be enough to start the collapse of opposition to May’s Deal.
118 Tories voted against May’s Deal last week, but it is quite possible for most of them to come into line, particularly if the DUP are bought off with some more assurances on the Backstop which I think are out there.
The Polish military curfew!
It is difficult to raise a smile at the moment, but I thought I’d share this with you from a Brexit conference I attended in London this week.
The influx of Polish workers before the Referendum was one of the issues played up by UKIP. A speaker was claiming that Polish immigration had almost dried up now, partly because the wage gap had massively narrowed. But he had another explanation. There had been a baby boom in Poland about 25 years ago producing a large number of young Polish men without work around 2012. Why the baby boom? Because there had been a night curfew imposed by the army!
Parliament reflects the public mood
The public are increasingly frustrated by the parliamentary deadlock but, according to the latest polling, they are only reflecting a deeply divided country.
Support for No Deal is rising, although it is behind Remain with Mrs May’s Deal in third place. It is all very tight with no big swings. People are largely staying in their 2016 trenches and the parties also. There is strong support for No Deal amongst Conservative grassroots which is mirrored by support for Remain amongst Labour members.
Young revolt against Corbyn?
Has the penny dropped amongst those young enthusiasts for Jeremy Corbyn that they were actually supporting an enemy of the European Union going back forty years?
Dissatisfaction with his leadership was in evidence at the Fabian conference I also attended in the last week in London. The Fabians are a long-standing centrist Labour think tank and many delegates expressed their dismay that the party is not streets ahead in the polls considering the Tory mayhem.
At the gathering Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer made clear his preference for a People’s Vote but Deputy Leader Tom Watson concluded that there were not the parliamentary votes to secure it, and he had his doubts about its merits anyway.
So another big Brexit week looms. Stalemate could still prevail, but I have a sense that things could break May’s way shortly.
Follow me @JimHancockUK