The field of Labour leadership candidates has slimmed to four after Jess Phillips dropped out the contest.

The Birmingham Yardley MP announced her withdrawal from the Labour leadership race in a video message on Tuesday, as she admitted she is not the person to “unite” her party “at this time”.

(from left to right) Labour leadership candidates Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy, Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey
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(L-R) Remaining candidates Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy, Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey

She said: “The Labour Party will need to select a candidate who can unite all parts of our movement, the union movement, members and elected representatives.

“And I have to also be honest with myself, as I said I always would be throughout this campaign.

“At this time, that person is not me.

“In order to win the country, we are going to have to find a candidate, in this race, who can do all of that, and then take that message out to the country.

“A message of hope and change, that things can be better.”

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There are now four candidates – frontrunners Rebecca Long-Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer, as well as Emily Thornberry and Lisa Nandy – remaining in the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Ms Phillips had been struggling to win the required backing of either trade unions or local constituency parties that are needed in order to make it onto the final ballot paper.

Earlier on Tuesday, she was missing as leadership candidates pitched for the support of the GMB trade union, although aides said her absence was due to an unavoidable appointment elsewhere.

In her video message, Ms Phillips described Labour’s general election performance last month as “cataclysmic” and pointed out the party will need to win 124 more seats to secure a majority at the next general election.

She thanked those who had joined her campaign and those who have joined the Labour Party in recent weeks.

“I want to say to those people. This is not the end,” she added.

“Together, we can now use our strength, to make the changes we want to make. To use our voices in the Labour Party, and in the country, to make sure that the Labour Party win elections again.

“This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.”

Addressing Labour’s antisemitism crisis, Ms Phillips also sent a message to “all those in the Jewish community, many of whom have been in touch with me to say that in me, they found somebody who would stand up for them”.

“That doesn’t change,” she said.

“I will always stand up, I will always speak out and I promise that we will change the problems in our party that we have seen.

“I’m going to go out into the country and join the fight back.

“Because the Labour Party is not about the job description you have.

“We are the strength of our common endeavour, and everybody who has joined in, now we go out into the country, in the local elections, the mayoral elections and we fight back.

“We make sure we are out there, speaking to the country, and making sure the Labour Party can win elections again.”



Jess Phillips MP on Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

Responding to Ms Phillips announcement, Ms Thornberry posted on Twitter: “I’m very sorry to see @jessphillips drop out of the contest – we need to broaden our debate, not narrow it, and force the two favourites to prove they’re up to the fight by pitting them against some real strength.

“Jess is a sad loss in that effort, but we will keep going.”

Sir Keir became the first candidate to make it through to the final stage of the Labour leadership election – a ballot of party members – after securing the support of a second major trade union on Monday.

The Usdaw shopworkers’ union became the third affiliate to back the shadow Brexit secretary’s campaign.

Ms Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, and Ms Nandy, a former shadow energy secretary, have secured the nomination of one trade union each.

But Ms Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has yet to receive any.

This has left her with the potentially trickier prospect of attempting to win the support of 33 local constituency Labour parties in order to make it onto the final ballot paper.

Ms Thornberry refused to say who she would vote for out of frontrunners Sir Keir or Ms Long-Bailey if she does not make the final shortlist.

“I’m not getting into this,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “I’m in this to win it.”

The new Labour leader will be announced on 4 April following the ballot of the party’s membership.

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