Angela Eagle claims she will be the leader to 'unite' Labour
Angela Eagle today made her pitch for the Labour leadership as someone who can both unite the party and "heal the divisions" caused by six years of public spending cuts.
The former shadow business secretary will launch her bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow after rallying fellow MPs to support her.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Corbyn will automatically be on the ballot paper, but he has said he will "challenge" any decision by the party's National Executive Committee which denies him a place.
Appearing on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Ms Eagle insisted she was not intent on dividing the party, but wanted to be a unifying candidate.
"This is not about splitting the Labour party, this is about uniting the Labour party so we can heal the divisions that six years of Conservative government, huge anti-austerity policies, cuts that have been visited on the most vulnerable areas," she said.
She added: "We could have a general election very quickly, you know the Conservative party prime minister’s resigned, there could easily be a very quick general election and I believe I’m the right person to lead that into that general election."
In what may be seen as an attempt to counter the strong support for Mr Corbyn among new Labour members, Ms Eagle issued her own plea to the public to sign up to the party, saying:
"If you believe in this country in a strong, united Labour party to strengthen our democracy and renew our country in these difficult times, join the Labour party, that’s what we need to have.
"If you want to help Labour fulfil its historic task, make our democracy work, join the Labour party now, you can do it online."
'HIDING BEHIND A CLOSED DOOR'
She accused Mr Corbyn of deliberately ignoring the wishes of colleagues from all parts of the party who have been trying to persuade him to step down.
"Tom Watson, our deputy leader who’s got his own mandate, Rosie Winterton, the chief whip, John Cryer, who’s chair of the parliamentary Labour party and a friend of Jeremy’s, have all been trying to get him to recognise that he cannot continue in the job because he’s lost the confidence of the PLP and he’s hiding behind a closed door denying that this is a fact," she said.
"That’s not leadership."
But in a video response, Mr Corbyn countered: "Thanks Angela - leadership appears in lots of ways, one of which is trying to bring people together and give people outside hope and optimism of how the political system can work for them."