Labour moderates prepare for race to replace Keith Vaz

Written by David Singleton on 7 September 2016 in Diary

It could be the most influential job going for non-Corbynites.

Three of the Labour party's leading moderates are in the running to replace Keith Vaz as chair of home affairs select committee.

The new chair will be chosen in October and it has to be a Labour MP. Every MP gets to vote in the contest.

With Jeremy Corbyn expected to remain in place as Labour leader, the job could be the most influential position open to centrist Labour MPs for some time.

Chuka Umunna has made it clear that he will stand for the post and he is believed to have significant support.

The Streatham MP has impressed colleagues with his performance on the committee in recent years. Last year, Umunna notably blasted Theresa May over her Conservative Party conference speech on immigration as she appeared before the select committee.

Also, Vaz's departure means that no committee has a black or minority ethnic select committee chair – unless Umunna gets the nod.

But many MPs are keen to see a female chair and Caroline Flint is the first woman to have thrown her hat into the ring. "This committee now needs an experienced, independent-minded chair to take its work forward," said Flint in a statement confirming that she would stand.

As a seasoned operator with numerous ministerial and shadow cabinet posts under her belt, many MPs are satisfied that Flint has both the experience and the steel to head up one of the Commons’ most important select committees.

However there is a feeling among some that Yvette Cooper has the strongest credentials, having impressed as shadow home secretary for four years under Ed Miliband.

She is known to be interested, but it is not yet clear whether Cooper will throw her hat in the ring – or stick with her role as chair of Labour’s refugee taskforce.

While Umunna, Flint and Cooper are currently being seen as favourites, a fourth possible candidate is Fiona MacTaggart. The Labour MP was the sole challenger to Vaz for the post in June 2015, when she stated: “My aim is fewer victims of crime, effective and fair immigration control, less drug abuse and an end to home grown terrorism.”

Back then, she was nominated by Labour MPs including Margaret Hodge, Jess Phillips and Jeremy Corbyn.


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