Angela Eagle and Owen Smith agree 'unity candidate' deal to take on Jeremy Corbyn

Posted On: 
19th July 2016

Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have finally struck a deal which will see one of them become a 'unity candidate' to take on Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest.

Either Angela Eagle or Owen Smith will take on Jeremy Corbyn in the race to be Labour leader
PA Images

The pair reached a "common understanding" after a second round of talks last night.

It means that the one with the fewest Labour MP nominations by 5pm tomorrow will stand aside - but become an "integral part" of their rival's campaign to depose Mr Corbyn as leader.

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A senior Labour source told PoliticsHome: "They recognise and respect the clear preference of the parliamentary Labour party for a single candidate.

"They realise that as leaders they need to unite the PLP and the party to take on the Tories."

"Both of them bring real talents to the table, so wouldn't it be great if they could combine those talents to take on Jeremy and John McDonnell together?"

The first update on the amount of support Ms Eagle and Mr Smith are getting from their fellow Labour MPs will emerge at 5pm today.

Former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Smith is the favourite to come out on top, but one source said the race is currently "even Stevens".

The pair, plus Mr Corbyn, took part in a special PLP hustings yesterday, and Ms Eagle is said to have impressed many MPs who had been previously edging towards backing Mr Smith.

One source said: "The hustings were a real moment for Angela to shine and she stepped up to the plate."

But there was a major blow for both of Mr Corbyn's rivals this morning when a YouGov poll for The Times showed the leader enjoys a healthy lead over the pair of them among Labour members.