Sat, 25 June 2022

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By Women in Westminster

Jess Phillips drops out of Labour leadership contest

Jess Phillips drops out of Labour leadership contest
3 min read

Jess Phillips has become the latest candidate to drop out of the Labour leadership race.

The outspoken backbencher said that she was not the right candidate to "unite all parts of our movement".

Her decision came less than 24 hours after she failed to win the backing of the shopkeepers' union Usdaw, which instead threw its weight behind bookies' favourite Sir Keir Starmer.

It meant she was left facing an uphill struggle to get either the three affiliate organisations or 33 Constituency Labour Party branches she needed to get into the final round of the contest.

The remaining candidates are Sir Keir, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

Clive Lewis withdrew from the race last week after failing to get anough support from his fellow Labour MPs.

In a video posted online, Birmingham Yardley MP 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 [to] 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."

Launching her campaign earlier this month, Ms Phillips said Labour was "in big trouble" if it failed to win back the working class voters who deserted it at the general election.

She said: "Now is not the time to be meek. Boris Johnson needs to be challenged, with passion, heart and precision. We can beat him. We need to speak to people's hearts, and people need to believe we really mean it when we do."

Despite easily getting the number of MP nominations she needed it to get through the first round of the contest, Ms Phillips has failed to get any affiliate or CLP support.

She also admitted that her performance at the first leadership hustings last Saturday had been "awful", partly blaming the fact that candidates are only given 40 seconds to answer questions.

Pollsters YouGov said her decision to withdraw from the race meant was a boost for Sir Keir, who they forecast would win on the first round of voting with 53%.

Rival candidate Emily Thornberry said it was a "sad loss" for Ms Phillips to leave the contest.

"I'm very sorry to see Jess Phillips drop out of the contest - 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," she tweeted.

"Jess is a sad loss in that effort, but we will keep going."

And Lisa Nandy added: "I'm sorry to see Jess drop out. She has made waves, shown great friendship and I’ll miss her in this contest."

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