Jess Phillips has explained her reasons for stepping out of the Labour leadership race with an honest and powerful video message, and her peers have responded with messages of support.
At the start of this year, four female MPs secured positions in the race for Labour leadership. Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry all received enough nominations to go up for the position alongside Keir Starmer. The new leader, who will replace Jeremy Corbyn, will be announced on 4 April.
If a woman does win, it will be a first for the Labour party, which hasn’t had a female leader in its entire history.
But that woman won’t be Phillips, as the MP for Birmingham Yardley announced on Tuesday (21 January) that she is quitting the leadership race.
Phillips has shared a video that shows her explaining her decision.
“The Labour Party needs to elect a candidate who can bring all parts of our movement together. And at this time, if I am honest, that candidate is not me,” she said.
“To win again, to do all of the things that we need a Labour government to do, we must elect a leader who can bring us together, end the division and rebuild trust with the country,” she continued. “I will do everything within my power to ensure that’s the case.”
Phillips added: “I’m now going to go out into the country and join the fightback. Because the Labour Party is not about what job description you have. We are the strength of our common endeavour.
“We go out into the country, in the local elections, the mayoral elections and we fight back. And we make sure that we are out there, speaking to the country, and making sure that the Labour party can win elections again.”
According to YouGov, this now means that Starmer would win the first round with 53%. Long-Bailey would follow with 33%, Nandy with 10% and Thornberry with 4%.
Nandy has responded to the news, tweeting: “I’m sorry to see Jess drop out. She has made waves, shown great friendship and I’ll miss her in this contest.”
And Thornberry wrote: “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.”