10 January 2020 02:37
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner has confirmed he is "considering" a late bid for the Labour leadership. The Brent North MP, who has developed a following on the left of the party for his defence of Jeremy Corbyn's policies, would be the seventh candidate to declare if he formally enters the race. Asked whether he was intending to stand for Labour leader, Mr Gardiner told journalists he was "considering it at present". Mr Gardiner was in Abu Dhabi attending a climate change conference when news of his possible entry into the contest broke. Asked in an interview via Skype with the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme what he would bring to the role, he said: "I can win a general election." He said Labour colleagues had told him he has the "ability to communicate and bring the dynamism to the debate necessary to go out to the country".
Mr Gardiner's entry could damage support for shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey who has tried to position herself as the standard bearer for the left. Unite union boss Len McCluskey denied reports that he was trying to get Mr Gardiner to declare for the contest. Mr Gardiner held government roles under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, voted for the Iraq War in 2003 and backed David Miliband as Labour leader in 2010. Early front-runner Sir Keir Starmer will visit union backers on Thursday in a bid to maintain his edge in the competition. The shadow Brexit secretary is going to Unison headquarters after the country's biggest union endorsed him in the battle to replace Mr Corbyn. Would-be candidates have until Monday to secure backing to make it into the second round of the battle which will see the new leader announced on April 4. Sir Keir was the first to receive the backing of enough Labour MPs to enter the second round. He is well ahead in MP endorsements of his main rival, Ms Long-Bailey, who has been dubbed the "continuity Corbyn" candidate by some. Other contenders to declare for the top job are shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis, and backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy. Candidates need nominations from 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs, who total 212, making the required threshold 22. Contenders who receive enough nominations will enter phase two of the contest, where they have to secure the backing of 5% of constituency Labour branches or at least three affiliate groups, two of which must be made up of trade unions, to get on the final ballot paper to go to the membership.