COVENTRY MP Geoffrey Robinson has dismissed renewed speculation he may soon resign and try to parachute in his Labour friend and ex-shadow chancellor Ed Balls as his replacement.
Speaking with the Coventry Observer today, the re-elected 76-year-old MP for Coventry North West said only: “There is nothing in it at all.”
A tweet yesterday by Jason Cowley, editor of the left leaning New Stateman magazine, where Mr Robinson is a former proprietor, got the rumour mill turning.
It follows Mr Robinson’s eleventh-hour attempt in March – exclusively revealed by the Coventry Observer – to resign before the election, which later appeared to backfire.
We had also exclusively revealed the contents of a leaked email from Ed Miliband aide Greg Beales to Mr Robinson, in which Mr Beales suggested arrangements to meet with Coventry North West constituency figures.
Mr Cowley wrote: “Whisper it but will Geoffrey Robinson fall on his sword offering his dear friend @edballsmp a route back to the Commons? If not now, when?”
The suggestion was partly welcomed on Twitter by prominent Coventry North West Consituency Labour Party figure, leading Coventry city councillor Damian Gannon, who wrote: “Ed Balls is one of the party’s best talents but CNW CLP will want a fair and open process.
“There will eventually be a selection to Coventry North West and if @edballsmp was to apply for it that would be down to him. The CNW would decide.”
Coun Gannon also tweeted about Ed Balls, “the man is a genius”, and, “For me it’s about links and talent – I wouldn’t want to reject talent just due to lack of links.”
He was responding to his fellow constituency party members, Coventry city councillor Jayne Innes and her husband and academic Matt Innes, who argued Labour would risk defeat if there was a by-election in Coventry North west, given Mr Robinson’s majority had fallen to around 4,000.
Mr Innes tweeted it would be “electoral suicide” following swings in the constituency in last Thursday’s General Election of three per cent from Labour to Tory, and nine per cent from Labour to UKIP.
He described Mr Balls as a “good economist but a flawed politician.”
Coun Innes tweeted: “I’d like to chose a star of the future- not past.”
After two days of silence in March, and the outraged local constituency party calling an emergency meeting to select his replacement, Mr Robinson announced he would be standing after all.
It was not enough to prompt much pre-election speculation about how long Mr Robinson might intend to serve in what is now his tenth term.
He eventually responded by saying, health allowing, he intended to serve the full five-year term.
Mr Robinson is a close ally of Mr Balls and has invited him to Coventry for several events over many years.
Mr Balls lost his Orley and Outwood seat in one of the biggest shocks of last week’s election.
It has sparked rumours the Labour party will quickly seek to return him to Parliament in another seat through a by-election.