Some sad news for MRAs everywhere, but British MRAs in particular. Our thanks to Groan for pointing us to a piece published by The Times less than an hour ago:
Jess Phillips has withdrawn from the Labour leadership race after a shortlived campaign in a move that cements Sir Keir Starmer’s position as the frontrunner.
The MP for Birmingham Yardley said she had concluded that she was not the best candidate to unite the party’s warring factions.
Her decision comes after a hustings performance on Saturday that she described as “awful” and a controversial pledge to campaign to rejoin the EU after Brexit.
Ms Phillips was struggling to attract the support of trade unions and local parties needed to get on to a ballot of Labour members that opens a month today.
Candidates need the nominations of three Labour affiliates, including at least two unions, which must total at least 5 per cent.
The only other route on to the ballot paper is by receiving nominations from at least 33 constituency Labour parties.
A YouGov poll of Labour members for The Times found Ms Phillips was the first choice at only 11 per cent, putting her in third place among the five candidates.
Of those, 60 per cent selected Sir Keir as their second choice, suggesting her withdrawal makes the shadow Brexit secretary the strong favourite.
If the race were held tomorrow Sir Keir could win it on the first round with 53 per cent of first preference votes, You Gov said.
Announcing her decision to withdraw Ms Phillips said: “I truly believe that unless we talk to the country on their terms, not just on ours, that we won’t be able to make the gains we need to win an election — and do what everyone in the Labour movement wants to do, and that is make people’s lives better.
“In order to do that, the Labour Party will need to select a candidate that can unite all parts of our movement — the union movement, the members and elected representatives. I have to be honest that at this time, that person isn’t me.
“In order to win the country, we are going to have to find a candidate in this race who can do that and take that message out to the country of hope and change for things to be better.”
Meanwhile Lisa Nandy, who is also vying for the leadership, secured the backing of the GMB union today, pushing her close to securing a place on the final ballot, where she will most likely join Sir Keir and Rebecca Long Bailey.
Emily Thornberry, whose leadership campaign is faltering, said that she was “very sorry” that Ms Phillips had withdrawn from the race, arguing that Sir Keir and Ms Long Bailey needed to face a challenge.
She said: “We need to broaden our debate, not narrow it, and force the two favourites to prove they’re up to the fight by pitting them against some real strength.
“Jess is a sad loss in that effort, but we will keep going.”
Ms Nandy also said that she was sorry that Ms Phillips had dropped out, adding: “She has made waves, shown great friendship and I’ll miss her in this contest.”
The Labour MP Wes Streeting has praised Ms Phillips’ role in recruiting new members to the party and said she will “play a big role in Labour’s future”.
He tweeted: “Honesty is the best policy and Jess has it in abundance.
“Although she can’t build the broad coalition needed to rebuild the Labour Party now, she’s recruited thousands upon thousands of new members, amplified the voices of the voters and will play a big role in Labour’s future.” [J4MB emphasis: we can but hope.]
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