Thursday 9 January 2020 9:03 am

Barry Gardiner expected to enter Labour leadership race

Labour frontbencher Barry Gardiner is expected to throw his hat into the ring and join the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn later today, in a sign that the left of the party is yet to back Rebecca Long Bailey.

It is thought the shadow international trade security will make an announcement about his decision later today.

While it has been reported that Gardiner is mulling a late entry into the race at the backing of Unite boss Len McCluskey, the MP told the BBC this was not the case.

However, it is thought the union has split over who to back, with shadow business secretary Long Bailey struggling to win the level of support she had been expected to secure as the “continuity” Corbyn candidate.

Gardiner, who is currently on a trade trip to Abu Dhabi, has been MP for Brent North since 1997. He has served in Corbyn’s frontbench team since 2016 and has been passionately loyal to his leader, despite occasional gaffes including calling Labour’s Brexit position “bollocks”.

Candidates have until 13 January to win the backing of the 22 MPs and MEPs needed to get on the ballot paper.

Yesterday Keir Starmer became the first candidate to pass this threshold, amassing 41 nominations. He also won the backing of the UK’s largest union Unison, the first union to state a preference.

Unite has said it will not make a decision on who to back until later this month.

Long Bailey currently has 17 nominations, one more than outspoken backbencher Jess Phillips.

Lisa Nandy has 12, Emily Thornberry three and Clive Lewis one.

Main image: Getty