The Daily is led to believe by usually reliable sources that Alan Johnson is set to announce that he is standing for deputy leader – but not leader – at tomorrow’s press gallery lunch. Though theoretically under Chatham House rules, gallery lunches are notoriously leaky – so leaky in fact, that this has been leaked to us before it even happened.
Johnson is set to appear on Andrew Marr’s show this Sunday and will publicly declare his intentions then, but may try to maximise media exposure with something in advance.
The announcement will end the long-running saga of whether Johnson dared to stand for leader against Brown. It seems his campaign will be adopting the motto “Who doesn’t dare, wins” by sticking to the second spot, a decision that leaves the right wing of the deputy race increasingly crowded.
Update: Harry Perkins, who seems well sourced within the Campaign Group, reports that Michael Meacher is also set to declare tomorrow – though he is making a formal launch annoucement and it’s for the top job, unlike Johnson. This would leave Meacher and McDonnell battling it out for nominations on the left, with a general assumption being that whoever falls short will back the other.
Further update: The Telegraph today run with the story on Johnson’s anticipated withdrawal from the leadership race and add that Meacher is now playing down suggestions that he will announce a bid at the launch of what is described as his “Labour’s Big Change” campaign today.