Jeremy Corbyn faces backlash over Labour conference speeches

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Jeremy Corbyn faced a backlash today over all the main speeches at Labour’s annual rally being given by London MPs.

The five key addresses are expected to be delivered by MPs, four of whose constituencies border each other in north London.

The four are party leader Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, Islington South and Finsbury, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, Holborn and St Pancras.

The fifth main speaker will be shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington.

The line-up for the party’s annual conference in Brighton at the end of this month is still being finalised.

But Mr Corbyn was today warned against the list of speakers being so London-centric.

One senior regional MP said: “This should be the national Labour Party conference not the London Labour Party conference nor indeed the London Zone 1 conference.”

However, party sources insisted that MPs from outside the capital would also be speaking, with Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne, the party’s national campaigns and elections joint co-ordinator set to also have a high-profile slot.

A senior party source said: “It will not be the case that only these four to five London MPs will be speaking.”

Fewer shadow Cabinet ministers, though, are due to speak from the platform as more time is given for delegates to engage in debates.

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald and shadow housing secretary John Healey are not due to give stand-alone addresses to the hall, according to the HuffPost.

While shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham could also miss out.

The changes at the annual rally are being billed at making the party more democratic.

But Mr Corbyn’s critics accuse him and his allies of seeking to tighten their grip on the party whose membership has soared since he was elected leader in 2015, with a significant influx of Leftwingers.

The conference speaker issue was expected to be raised at a meeting of the shadow Cabinet today.

An attempt is also expected to be made at the annual rally to change the party leadership rules to make it harder for MPs to stop a Leftwinger getting on the ballot paper which goes out to members.


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