22 January 2020 | UK NEWS
Labour leadership contender Jess Phillips withdrew from the contest on Tuesday, telling her supporters that the successful candidate would need to be able to “unite all part of our movement – the union movement, the members, the elected representatives”, adding that “at this time, that person isn’t me”.
She also addressed the Jewish community, saying: “I will always stand up, I will always speak out.” Ms Phillips becomes the second candidate to withdraw from the contest, after Clive Lewis withdrew on 13 January after receiving only 5 of the required 22 nominations from Labour Party MPs. Her message to her supporters can be viewed below:
Ms Phillips’ withdrawal leaves Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, Emily Thornberry and Rebecca Long-Bailey as the remaining candidates – 1 man and 3 women. This is particularly notable owing to the wish expressed by the outgoing Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, that the next leader of the party should be a woman.
Rebecca Long-Bailey has the backing of the pro-Labour campaigning organisation Momentum. We can exclusively reveal that, during a strategy organising call between Momentum and Long-Bailey on Monday evening, the candidate expressed her support for moving the House of Lords to York, which had been mooted by Conservative Party actors but, according to certain sources, is unlikely to transpire. She further appeared to back the argument for greater devolution of power to the regions, as also favoured by the Conservative Party.
As things stand at the time of writing, Sir Keir Starmer is in the lead by a comfortable margin among the Parliamentary Labour Party, with Rebecca Long-Bailey next in line. As for the other candidates, Emily Thornberry has said that the next leader should be a woman because, in her view, “Boris Johnson has a woman problem”, adding that she was the candidate who would “frighten the life out of” the Prime Minister during PMQs. Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy yesterday won the backing of the GMB trade union, further strengthening her case for leadership of the party.
Sir Keir himself has said relatively little during the campaign compared to the other contenders. Having won a comfortable 88 nominations from fellow Labour MPs, as well as sufficient trade union endorsements to officially qualify for the race (including from Unison and and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), some may say the contest is potentially his to lose. Polling certainly seems to show that his chances of winning the contest are presently the greatest.
We will bring you further developments in the Labour Party leadership election as they come in.