Leadership contest for Britain's Labour Party

Ms Eagle said her background as a "good, sensible, down-to-earth woman" would help her lead the Labour Party. She is a former junior minister for pensions and a former shadow business secretary.
Ms Eagle said her background as a "good, sensible, down-to-earth woman" would help her lead the Labour Party. She is a former junior minister for pensions and a former shadow business secretary.PHOTO: REUTERS

Angela Eagle launches bid to take over from Corbyn, who vows to fight any challengers

LONDON • Britain's opposition Labour Party says that a leadership contest had been officially triggered following the receipt of sufficient nominations for a rival candidate to incumbent left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The party's general secretary Iain McNicol said in a statement yesterday that the party's National Executive Committee would meet to confirm arrangements for the contest.

The announcement came only hours after Labour lawmaker Angela Eagle launched her bid to take over the leadership of the party, saying Mr Corbyn was unable to defeat the ruling Conservative Party.

"Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership that this party needs - I believe I can," Ms Eagle, 55, said in a speech yesterday, bringing two weeks of turmoil and rebellion in the opposition to a head and adding to the uncertainty in British politics and the economy following last month's vote to leave the European Union (EU).

Mr Corbyn was chosen as Labour leader last year on a wave of support from the party's most left-wing activists. But he has clashed with its lawmakers who overwhelmingly passed a no-confidence motion in his leadership. Many have accused him of not campaigning strongly enough to keep Britain in the EU in last month's referendum.

SOMETHING TO OFFER

I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together. And I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I would be a good prime minister for Britain.

LABOUR LAWMAKER ANGELA EAGLE

"These are dark times for Labour and these are dangerous times for our country," Ms Eagle said.

"I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together. And I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I would be a good prime minister for Britain."

Ms Eagle's leadership bid comes after two weeks during which Mr Corbyn has lost a no-confidence ballot among his lawmakers by 172 votes to 40 and suffered the resignations of about 60 members of his front-bench team, leaving him unable to fill all the posts in his shadow cabinet.

In spite of all that, he has refused calls to resign, vowing to stay on and fight any challengers.

Labour's rules say a leadership candidate needs backing from 20 per cent of lawmakers - currently 51 Labour MPs and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) - to stand in a new contest.

But Mr Corbyn has suggested he may go to court if he is not automatically on that ballot paper, said BBC News.

Ms Eagle is an Oxford graduate, one-time chess champion, a former junior minister for pensions and a former shadow business secretary. She told the Daily Mirror that her background as a "good, sensible, down-to-earth woman with Northern roots" would help her lead the party.

She has been dubbed the "Empire Strikes Back candidate" by Corbyn supporters after she voted for the Iraq war and the introduction of tuition fees.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Leadership contest for Britain's Labour Party'. Print Edition | Subscribe