Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Tory party will be “rubbing their hands” if the next Labour Party leader is Rebecca Long-Bailey. The deputy director of The UK in a Changing Europe believes Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips would make things “awkward” for Mr Johnson. Keir Starmer is currently topping the polls with Ms Long-Bailey second and Ms Phillips third.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Bale said: “I think the Tories will be rubbing their hands if it’s Rebecca Long-Bailey.
“I think the Conservatives will be far more concerned if it was someone with a little bit more charisma, something about them, someone like Jess Phillips for example who I think will really take the fight to the Conservative in a way that I think will be quite awkward for Boris Johnson to handle.
“But I think generally speaking the Conservatives would prefer Labour to elect somebody who is seen as ‘continuity Corbyn’ rather than someone who is seen as pragmatic and centrist or especially someone who is a new face.”
Supporter of Jess Phillips, Wes Stressing MP, believes she will have Mr Johnson “lying awake at night”.
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Radio 4 host Martha Kearney asked: “Was Jess Phillips right to allow the possibility of another referendum? We just heard Jenny Chapman saying that really shouldn’t be a priority.”
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Streeting said: “As ever with Jess honesty is the best policy.
“I think she has been very clear that she doesn’t want to rule anything out in the longer term.
“But Jess doesn’t have a crystal ball like any other candidate.
The expert believes Jess Phillips would make things “awkward” for Mr Johnson
“She’s set out in the Independent today a really clear pitch on where she stands on Europe including being honest about the fact that if people want to join the rejoin campaign, they shouldn’t expect her to be launching it any time soon.
“In all likelihood the next Labour manifesto won’t contain a commitment to rejoin.”
Ms Kearney added: “But what will that mean for all those voters who are usually Labour in the northern seats in England who are firmly Leave and one of the reasons why they supported the Conservatives.”
Mr Streeting replied: “I think people can expect three things from Jess Phillips if she’s elected leader of the Labour Party.
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“She will hold Boris Johnson to every promise he has made because he hasn’t got any excuses now.
“I think if Jess is leader of the Labour Party Boris Johnson will be lying awake knowing his job is at risk if he messes up because she will be chomping at his heels.”
It comes as Ms Phillips backtracked and admitted her party must accept the result of the EU referendum result – despite previously saying they could campaign to rejoin the EU.
The Labour MP said on the Andrew Marr show yesterday she could campaign to re-enter the European Union at the next general election if she were to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
However Ms Phillips appeared to reverse her words in today’s Independent newspaper, in which she said “we must accept the result” and admitted a campaign to rejoin the bloc would not win support within her party.