Angela Eagle pulls out of Labour leadership race

 
Jake Cordell
Follow Jake
Angela Eagle will not challenge Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming Labour leadership contest
Angela Eagle will not challenge Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming Labour leadership contest (Source: Getty)

Angela Eagle has pulled out of the Labour leadership challenge, paving the way for Owen Smith to take on Jeremy Corbyn in a head-to-head fight.

The former shadow business secretary, who was the first to announce she would challenge Corbyn, was in second place at the end of the first day of nominations from Labour MPs by a "narrow gap" and immediately announced she would withdraw, offering her full support to Smith.

Eagle said: "Owen Smith has a lead, and I think that it's in the best interests of the Labour Party that we come together and we have one candidate. I'm announcing that I'm withdrawing and supporting Owen.

"We have a Labour Party at the moment that is not working, we have a leader that doesn't have the confidence of his members of parliament and isn't reaching out to the country. We need to have a strong Labour party so we can be a good opposition and take the fight to the Conservative Party.

"I'm supporting Owen, we are going to be in lockstep together, arguing for an effective, united Labour Party."

Smith, who was shadow work and pensions secretary, won 88 nominations from MPs and MEPs, including from former leader Ed Miliband according to reports, and will now come up against Corbyn in a vote of Labour Party members for the top job.

The two will now go head-to-head in a campaign which will take place over the summer, before ballots are posted in late August. The winner of the contest will be announced at a special conference of the party on 24 September.