Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner has ruled himself out of the Labour leadership contest, saying he does not believe he can command enough support “at this late stage”.
Gardiner admitted he was toying with running last night, with the deadline for applications closing on Monday.
But this evening the frontbencher, who is thought to have been prompted to consider the move by Rebecca Long Bailey’s faltering campaign, confirmed he would not stand.
“I am now clear that at this late stage I cannot secure sufficient nominations to proceed to the next round. I have therefore decided not to stand for the leadership at this time,” Gardiner said. “I will continue to serve the party loyally under whichever of my colleagues.”
His decision came shortly after Labour confirmed that four candidates, including Long Bailey, had secured enough MP nominations to get through to the second round.
Long Bailey has 29 nominations, significantly behind rival Keir Starmer, who already has the backing of 59 colleagues.
Starmer is also the only candidate to have been endorsed by a union – Unison – with Unite failing to get behind anyone as yet.
Remaining candidates Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy have 22 nominations each, the minimum amount required, while Thornberry has notched up just nine. Rank outsider Clive Lewis has the backing of four.
Earlier in the day Thornberry gave Jeremy Corbyn “nought out of 10” for his leadership skills on the basis of the election – but insisted he would get full marks for “firing up the party”.
Thornberry, whose constituency neighbours Corbyn, said losing December’s election was “probably” the most important measure to judge the Labour leader by, “and obviously we lost very, very badly”.
“On that basis I would give him nought out of 10,” she told Sky News. “What else could I do.”
The Islington South and Finsbury MP, who is an ardent Remainer, did not comment on Corbyn’s Brexit policy, but gave him “not more than two out of 10” for failing to grapple with antisemitism, saying that was “a failure of leadership”.
“But when it comes to principle, bringing people into the party, firing up the party, bringing us back to speaking from our hearts, I would give him 10 out of 10,” Thornberry added.
Earlier this week, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey also gave Corbyn full marks, telling ITV News: “I’d give him 10 out of 10 because I respect him and I supported him all the way through.”
Long Bailey had been widely viewed as the frontrunner to replace Corbyn, however the woman critics have dubbed the “continuity candidate” has struggled to gain traction among MPs.
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