The Labour leadership race has widened after three more MPs joined Sir Keir Starmer by making it through the first round.
Rebecca Long Bailey, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy all reached the threshold. They now have to pick up enough support from either local parties or the unions to make it onto the ballot paper.
Barry Gardiner has confirmed he will not be running for leader after four of his colleagues secured enough nominations to formally run for the top job.
A few hours after it was confirmed, Mr Gardiner, who had been weighing up his position, released a statement confirming he would not run.
He said: “I want to thank all my colleagues as well as the party activists and members of the public who encouraged me to stand for the Labour leadership.
“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.
“I will continue to serve the party loyally under whichever of my colleagues has the honour of leading our party forward to win the next General Election.”
Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis trail, with seven and four nominations each.
Sir Starmer, has already controversially won the backing of Unison, the country’s biggest union. They just forgot to ask the unions membership. Unison, which has 1.3 million members, claimed the shadow Brexit secretary was best placed of the candidates to unite the party and regain public trust.
However to many Leave voting members Sir Starmer was and is seen as the dividing factor and more widely despised throughout the Labour Heartlands for his vote losing second referendum stance.
This now leaves the two remaining candidates – Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis – scrabbling around to get enough votes.
They need 22 MPs or MEPs to enter the race – and then either 33 constituency parties or 5% of unions or affiliates.
Sir Starmer now has 59 MPs and MEPs backing him, out of a total 212, while Ms Long Bailey has picked up 26, 15 of which are from the more left-wing 2019 intake.
Ms Nandy, on the soft Left of the party, has 23, while Ms Phillips, a moderate, has got 22.
Unite, Labour’s largest financial backer, will decide later this month who to back in the contest.
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