Diane Abbott tests out Corbynite attack line for battle with Angela Eagle
Eagle is ‘the Empire Strikes Back Candidate’ it is claimed.
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn are hoping to see off the Labour leadership challenge from Angela Eagle - by looking back to 2003.
Corbyn’s supporters are keen to paint Eagle as a pro-war figure by stressing that she voted in favour of the Iraq War.
The Labour leader’s close colleague Diane Abbott appeared to confirm the tactic as she road tested a new soundbite this morning.
Abbott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think she’s the Empire Strikes Back candidate - she voted for Iraq, she voted for tuition fees. And someone who came fourth out of five to be deputy, it’s not clear to me that she can win the leadership.”
The shadow health secretary then made it clear that she was proud of the soundbite when she tweeted it out moments later.
However, painting Eagle as pro-war could help another anti-Corbyn candidate.
The former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith has made it clear to colleagues that he is ready to challenge the leader. He was not an MP at the time the Commons voted for the Iraq War in 2003. Unlike Eagle, he also voted against airstrikes in Syria.
As such, a number of Labour MPs believe that the left-leaning Smith has the better prospect of beating Corbyn - should the Labour leader be on the ballot paper.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee is due to decide this week whether the party leader must be re-nominated by MPs in order to run in the event of a challenge to his leadership.
Abbott said it would be "a travesty in terms of natural justice and fairness" if the party tried to keep Corbyn off the ballot.
Picture by: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire/Press Association Images