Starmer officially enters the race to succeed Corbyn, as Lisa Nandy shines in opening hustings

Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, has enough support from his Labour colleagues in Westminster and Brussels to officially enter the Labour leadership race.

The front-runner has the support of 23 Labour colleagues, surpassing the 22 supporters needed in the first stage of the Labour leadership race. The current tallies appear to mirror the YouGov poll of members with Rebecca Long-Bailey trailing in a distant second.

The former head of the Crown Prosecution Service has also received the support of Britain’s largest trade union, Unison. The 1.3 million-strong union, that backed Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 and 2016, has announced its support for Starmer because they believe he is best placed to defeat Boris Johnson. The General Secretary, Dave Prentis, claimed ‘Starmer would be a leader to bring the party together and win back the trust of the thousands of voters who deserted Labour last month’.

‘Continuity candidate’, Long-Bailey, who has the backing of Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, is currently 15 short of entering the race on 7 backers. The Shadow Business Secretary was mocked on a BBC radio interview for grading Corbyn a ‘10 out of 10’ despite leading his party to their worst electoral defeat since 1935. Nonetheless, the Salford-born MP will presume that those expected to back Ian Lavery’s ticket will fall behind her, as the hard-left chair of the party declines to enter the race.

While outspoken backbencher representing Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips trails her on 6. She has the support of Wes Streeting and both of them were extremely critical of the parties position on anti-semitism and Europe. But Phillips has recently come under scrutiny for suggesting that under her leadership Britain could rejoin the EU, despite her constituents voting to leave the European Union.

However, reports from the New Statesman on the Parliamentary Labour Party’s hustings last night suggest that Lisa Nandy, member of Parliament for Wigan, may build on the two nominations she currently has. Despite having the smallest majority among candidates for leader, with her 33% majority in 2017 falling to just 15%, she emerged from the hustings with the best performance, in what was a disappointing night for Clive Lewis and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The two stragglers are Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary on one nomination, and ex-soldier Clive Lewis who is yet to receive one formal endorsement. And as both candidates are firmly on the Remain-wing of the party, they may prove to condemn Labour to a further electoral defeat. A majority of the 55-seats that Labour lost to the Tories voted for Brexit, and Lewis’ claim that Brexit was a ‘racist project’ and Caroline Flint’s accusation that Thornberry called Brexiteers ‘stupid’, will not bode well for either candidate in the former Labour heartlands, like Scunthorpe, Sedgefield and Stoke South.

But with five days to go until nominations close only Sir Keir Starmer can be certain that he has enough support from his parliamentary colleagues.

By J Walters


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