Angela Eagle mounts challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership
Watch: The Labour MP set out her stall in front of dozens of Labour MPs in central London.
After weeks of speculation, Angela Eagle has finally moved to mount an official challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.
Eagle has received the required 51 nominations required from fellow MPs to trigger a leadership contest.
Her launch in central London was packed with Labour politicians old and new. Alan Johnson and Stephen Kinnock took up front row seats while others present included Hilary Benn, Harriet Harman, Wes Streeting, Emma Reynolds, Ben Bradshaw, Dan Jarvis and Jess Philips.
Eagle declared: “I will not stand back and allow Britain to become a one party Tory state. We owe too much to the millions in our country who look to us to help them make a better life.”
Eagle’s pitch for the leadership was a polished performance – but anyone hoping for a clear of idea of exactly what she plans to do differently to Corbyn in terms of policy will have left disappointed.
On her beliefs, Eagle stated: "I stand for hope not grievance. I stand for equality, for social justice, for social mobility. I am a practical socialist driven by a strong set of values."
The speech did not go into any policy specifics, except to mention historic Labour policies that she is proud of “from the NHS to the minimum wage to the equality legislation”.
Instead of talking policy, the speech focused a lot on Eagle’s ability to be a strong leader and to unite the party.
“Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership this huge task needs. I believe I can," she said.
“I’m not a Blairite. I’m not a Brownite. I’m not a Corbynista. I am my own woman. A strong Labour woman.”
Asked what policies she would introduce as prime minister, Eagle said: “Today, I’m announcing my decision to stand for the leadership of the Labour party. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I would be a good prime minister for Britain.
“These are dark times for Labour, and they are dangerous times for our country. A referendum to settle an argument in the Conservative party has resulted in the country being torn apart – our economy damaged, our society hurt.”
Asked if she was doomed to fail, given the huge support for Corbyn among party members, Eagle replied: “I don’t go in for suicide missions.”
Shortly after Eagle had spoken, Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol said: “I will now ask the chair of the National Executive Committee to convene a meeting to confirm arrangements for an election.”