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Eagle drops out of leadership contest

Jeremy Corbyn will go head to head with Owen Smith

JEREMY CORBYN will go head-to-head with Owen Smith for the Labour leadership after Angela Eagle dropped out of the contest yesterday.

Ms Eagle announced she was withdrawing in a statement to reporters in Parliament after early totals revealed she had received fewer nominations from MPs than Mr Smith.

The Wallasey MP, who triggered the election by formally challenging Mr Corbyn, said she and Mr Smith would now be “in lock-step together, arguing for a united Labour Party.”

“We need to have a strong and united Labour Party so that we can be a good opposition, take the fight to the Conservative government and heal our country,” she said.

“So I am announcing tonight that I will be supporting Owen in that endeavour with all of my enthusiasm and might.”

Her decision ends days of squabbling between the pair over who would be the “unity candidate” to stand against Mr Corbyn in the party’s second election contest in under a year.

Ms Eagle told a hustings event for Labour MPs and peers that the party needed its first female leader, but came under pressure from Mr Smith and his supporters to stand aside.

The candidates reportedly hammered out a peace deal in a meeting after the hustings, where Mr Corbyn also put his case to MPs.

Mr Smith said: “I will take on Jeremy on the issues. I think I’ve got ideas that can turn some of the slogans we’ve had in recent years into solutions.”

But a Times poll released yesterday found Mr Corbyn will beat Mr Smith by 56 per cent to 34 per cent. 

It also revealed the leader’s support among members has risen by four points since the vote of no confidence against him by MPs.

And Labour MP Ian Mearns told the Star: “I’m afraid to say there are people within the parliamentary party that seem to have lost any sense that we are meant to be a democratic party.

“Someone said to me on Twitter that the leader’s position is obviously untenable if he can’t command the respect of 80 per cent of the parliamentary party.

“Well, I think the 80 per cent of the parliamentary party also need to reflect on their position as well when they can’t command the respect of 60 per cent of their constituency memberships.”

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