EXCLUSIVE Owen Smith to run for Labour leadership

Posted On: 
11th July 2016

Owen Smith has decided to run to become Labour leader - and could launch his campaign as early as tomorrow, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Owen Smith has said he 'stands ready' to save the Labour party
PA Images

The former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has gathered enough support from his fellow MPs to join Angela Eagle in challenging Jeremy Corbyn.

He and Ms Eagle have held talks in recent days over one of them becoming a so-called 'unity candidate' to take on the under-fire leader.

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But they failed to reach an agreement and Ms Eagle announced her own leadership challenge this morning.

A senior Labour source said Mr Smith will announce his candidacy this week, and could even do it after tomorrow's meeting of the party's ruling national executive committee.

Speaking last week, Mr Smith said he was "ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party".

He has also accused Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell of saying in a private meeting that he was prepared to see the Labour party split rather than give in to the anti-Corbyn rebels.

Mr Smith held private talks with Mr Corbyn today about the crisis which continues to engulf the party.

Tomorrow's NEC meeting will rule on whether the Labour leader will need to get nominations from 51 MPs so he can stand in the leadership election, or whether he goes on the ballot automatically.

One insider told PoliticsHome: "It's interesting that the old right of the party, who are close to (deputy leader) Tom Watson, are holding back on supporting Eagle or Smith. People like Michael Dugher, Gloria De Piero, John Spellar and Conor McGinn are playing a straight bat.

"That can only mean they think Corbyn will be on the ballot and expect Tom will need to broker a unity candidate."