Labour MP: Owen Smith is the leader to unite the party, not Angela Eagle
A former shadow minister has cast doubt on Angela Eagle's suitability to lead the Labour party, calling on Owen Smith to put himself forward instead.
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, who recently resigned as shadow childcare minister, said she was "not sure" Ms Eagle was best placed to take Labour forward.
The former shadow business secretary has put herself forward as a challenger to embattled leader Jeremy Corbyn, who overwhelmingly lost a vote of no confidence from Labour MPs at the end of June.
Ahead of a speech launching her campaign, Ms Eagle told the Daily Mirror: “The Labour party needs to be saved. I’m stepping up to the plate to say it’s about time we did this so we can make the Labour Party relevant again and so we can contend for government."
But Ms Chapman said she was not the right person to replace Mr Corbyn.
"I’m not sure it is, is the complete truthful answer to this. I think what we need is a candidate who can bring the party together, I don’t know if that is Angela," she told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show.
"The other name that’s been suggested is Owen Smith and personally I think there is more opportunity to unite the party behind somebody like Owen, who has many of Jeremy’s sort of values and ideas...
"This is about putting forward to the Labour membership a selection of people which I think should include Jeremy Corbyn and saying, ‘look, in your hear to hearts who do you believe is the person that if we all got behind could win a general election for Labour’ and for me I think Owen would be that right person."
Mr Smith, who recently resigned as shadow work and pensions secretary, was embroiled in a row with key Corbyn ally John McDonnell over the weekend.
He tweeted a claim that Mr McDonnell had said he was willing to see Labour split into two parties "if that's what it takes".
The shadow chancellor quickly replied that the allegation was "complete rubbish", only for fellow Labour MP Kate Green to weigh in.