EXCL Labour blame game begins over leaking of draft manifesto
A furious Labour row erupted last night between Jeremy Corbyn's office and the party's HQ over the leaking of its draft general election manifesto.
Sources close to the party leader immediately blamed staff at Labour's base near Westminster for handing copies of the 43-page document to the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph.
It was claimed that the explosive move was designed to damage Mr Corbyn by revealing his left-wing prospectus for the country early.
But senior party sources suggested to PoliticsHome that the manifesto may actually have been leaked by the leader's office itself in a bid to blame Labour HQ for damaging the party's election campaign.
Within minutes of the story appearing on both papers' websites, former Corbyn spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin - who remains a staunch defender of the Labour leader and maintains close links to his team - had pointed the finger at Labour staff for the leak.
But a Labour insider told PoliticsHome: "No one in HQ had the draft manifesto outside the leaders' office."
Another source said: "I assume it was leaked by the leaders' office to hype up their policies even more and so that HQ can get the blame. It damages HQ's reputation and gets them lots of coverage."
It was also claimed that Corbyn policy chief Andrew Fisher - who has played a key role in drawing up the manifesto - left a copy of the draft document lying on his desk in Labour's open plan office yesterday.
"It was noticed and commented on by various people," said one eyewitness.
PoliticsHome has also learned that Shadow Cabinet members were only given the section of the draft manifesto which specifically related to their brief, meaning none of them had access to the full document.
A source close to Mr Corbyn said it was "categorically and completely untrue" to suggest his office were behind the leak.
They also denied that only members of the leaders' office had a copy of the full draft.
A Labour spokesman said: "We don't comment on leaks. Our policies will be laid out when we launch our manifesto which is a plan to transform Britain for the many, not the few."