Clive Lewis is tonight refusing to deny he registered website addresses in preparation for a leadership bid just days after joining Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet.
The Huffington Post UK can reveal that four domain names all supporting Lewis for Labour leader were registered on June 29 last year: cliveforleader.co.uk; cliveforleader.org.uk; cliveforlabour.co.uk and cliveforlabour.org.uk
A search on www.nominet.uk shows they were registered to “Clive Lewis”.
The Norwich South MP was one of Corbyn’s staunchest backers in Parliament, nominating him for the leadership in 2015 and publicly backing him for reelection a year later.
However, the discovery of the websites suggest that Lewis was already preparing his own tilt at the leadership just two days after he was appointed Shadow Defence Secretary.
Lewis quit the Shadow Cabinet earlier this month in order to defy party orders and vote against triggering the formal Brexit process.
When asked for a comment on the websites, Lewis told HuffPost UK: “A lesson from LBJ [US President Lyndon B Johnson] in how to smash an opponent.
“Legend has it that LBJ, in one of his early congressional campaigns, told one of his aides to spread the story that Johnson’s opponent f*cked pigs. The aide responded: ‘Christ, Lyndon, we can’t call the guy a pigf*cker. It isn’t true.’
“To which LBJ supposedly replied: ‘Of course it ain’t true, but I want to make the son-of-a-bitch deny it.’”
When HuffPost UK asked if he was denying registering the sites, Lewis replied: “That’s your quote. Take it or leave it.”
One Labour MP told HuffPost UK: “In spite of offering public support to Jeremy Corbyn during the leadership challenge last year it looks like in private Clive was busy plotting his own coup.
“This behaviour looks arrogant, two-faced and disloyal.”
UPDATE: The day after this story was published, Clive Lewis did deny that he had registered the websites.
He told The Guardian: “None of this is true: I haven’t done this.”