Angela Eagle launches bid to topple Jeremy Corbyn with 'one-party Tory state' warning
Angela Eagle has warned Britain could descend into a one-party Tory state if Jeremy Corbyn remains Labour leader, as she formally launched her bid to topple him.
The former shadow business secretary argued Mr Corbyn was unable to “provide the leadership” to win a general election but that she believed she had what it takes to become Prime Minister.
Mr Corbyn has refused to quit as leader despite more than 60 Labour MPs resigning their frontbench positions in an attempt to force him out and an overwhelming vote of no confidence.
Ms Eagle has now received enough nominations from fellow MPs to trigger a leadership contest.
At her launch in central London today, she declared: “I will not stand back and allow Britain to become a one party Tory state.
“We owe too much to the millions in our country who look to us to help them make a better life.”
The Wallasey MP argued: “Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership this huge task needs. I believe I can. I’m not a Blairite. I’m not a Brownite. I’m not a Corbynista.
“I am my own woman. A strong Labour woman.”
Ms Eagle listed the successes of previous Labour governments and argued she hoped to become leader to win elections and not head up a Labour party “that just takes part”.
She said the vote to leave the EU was “a howl of pain” which heralded “dark times for Labour” and “dangerous times for our country”.
And she added: “I would not do this if I did not think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together.
“And I would not do this if I did not think I could be a good prime minister for Britain.”
But in the first direct shot in the leadership campaign battle, Corbyn-ally Diane Abbott said Labour members faced a “clear political choice” because Ms Eagle voted in favour of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, the Shadow Health Secretary: “As for Angela Eagle, she is a perfectly nice woman but what she is is the Empire Strikes Back candidate.
“She voted for the Iraq war and more besides. At the very least, if she runs, party members will be offered a clear political choice.”
The attack is a reference to the Star Wars film, in which villain Darth Vader makes gains on the virtuous Rebel Alliance by capturing the friends of protagonist and hero Luke Skywalker.
A huge row is being teed up between Mr Corbyn, his supporters and the rest of the party over whether he would automatically be on the ballot paper in a leadership contest.
It has been suggested that Mr Corbyn would need to find the support of 51 Labour MPs in order to be on the ballot, as Neil Kinnock did in 1988 when he was challenged by Tony Benn.
The decision on whether he would be automatically on the ballot or would need to seek nominations from colleagues will be decided in the coming days by the party's National Executive Committee.
Yesterday the leader suggested he might take legal action against the NEC if it rules against him.