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Friday, Oct 30, 2020

Jess Phillips enters race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader

Prominent Labour backbencher Jess Phillips has thrown her hat into the ring in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The Birmingham Yardley MP has called for a ‘different kind of leader’ and warns her party could face more crushing defeats if it does not recognise British politics has changed in a ‘fundamental way’.

The long-term Corbyn critic warned Labour is in ‘big trouble’ if it fails to win back the trust of its traditional working-class supporters, many of whom switched to the Tories in their droves in December’s General Election.

Phillips has become the third candidate to formally announce their leadership bid after the party suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1935, helping Boris Johnson win an 80-strong majority.

In a statement the Remain backing MP warned voters have lost trust in Labour and stressed the need for the Prime Minister to be challenged with ‘passion, heart and precision’.

She criticised Corbyn’s ‘woeful response’ to anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks and his ambiguity on Brexit, which deterred many voters.

Philips added: ‘We have got to be brave and bold and bring people with us, not try and look all ways.

‘Trying to please everyone usually means we have pleased no one.

‘Now is not the time to be meek. Boris Johnson needs to be challenged, with passion, heart and precision.

‘We can beat him. We need to speak to people’s hearts, and people need to believe we really mean it when we do.

‘Now is not the time to play it safe. What I’ve heard so far in this debate is totally inadequate to the scale of the problem. Voters have changed.

‘We need to recognise that politics has changed in a fundamental way by electing a different kind of leader. More of the same will lead to more of the same result.’

The mother of two boys, who supported domestic abuse victims for Women’s Aid before entering Parliament in 2015, said Labour needs to be ‘clear and straightforward’ if it is to win back voters.

She added: ‘We’re a party named after the working class who has lost huge parts of its working class base. Unless we address that, we are in big trouble.’

Tomorrow she will meet former Labour voters in the Bury North constituency, which the party lost to the Tories.

Philips announced her candidacy on social media with a video in which she visits the North Wales constituency of Delyn, which Labour lost to the Conservatives for the first time since 1987.

She joins shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis as those to have formally declared their bids.

Others including shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, close Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy are considering challenges and are expected to announce their plans soon.

Philips came third in a YouGov survey of Labour Party members behind Long-Bailey at 39% and Sir Keir at 61%.

The race isn’t expected to formally get underway until Tuesday, with a new leader not expected until the end of March.

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