4 candidates register to run in leadership race for Britain's Labour Party

Labour MPs (from left) Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall address delegates at the Progress annual conference in central London on May 16, 2015.  While Tristram Hunt has yet to publicly put himself forward, h
Labour MPs (from left) Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall address delegates at the Progress annual conference in central London on May 16, 2015.  While Tristram Hunt has yet to publicly put himself forward, he joined the four current Labour Party leadership contenders to speak. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Four candidates have registered to lead Britain's opposition Labour Party after its former chief Ed Miliband resigned in the wake of a devastating general election defeat last month, the party said on Monday.

Shadow Health Minister Andy Burnham, a member of former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's government, is the bookmaker's favourite. He has vowed to be "a leader whose voice can carry into all the nations and regions of the UK" following the collapse of support in the party's traditional heartlands.

Reformer Liz Kendall, 44, is second favourite, despite having only been elected to parliament in 2010. She has been critical of the party's shift to the left under Mr Miliband, saying "fundamental reform is essential to the future survival of our party".

Ms Yvette Cooper has long been tipped as a potential leader, but her close ties with leading figures associated with Labour's recent losses - including her husband Ed Balls - could count against her.

Veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn completes the line-up after a succesful last-minute attempt to secure the support of at least 35 of Labour's MPs - 15 per cent of the total.

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh pulled out of the race on Friday after it became clear she lacked the support to be nominated.

Labour Party representatives, members and affiliates will decide the result, which will be announced at a special conference on Sept 12.

The party now has only 232 MPs after it was all but wiped out in Scotland and lost voters in its northern working-class strongholds during May's general election defeat.

The party is locked in debate about whether it should maintain its leftward shift, or return to the centrist platform of former leader Tony Blair, and how to counter the image of being dominated by its London-based members.