Owen Smith prepares for Labour fight: I am just as radical as Jeremy Corbyn
Watch: The Welshman responded to the news that he is the chosen one to take on the Labour leader.
Owen Smith has tried to stress his left wing credentials after the path was cleared for him to stand as the sole candidate against Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election.
Angela Eagle pulled out of the leadership race after getting fewer nominations from MPs and MEPS.
According to Labour’s website, Smith gathered 90 nominations. Eagle is said to have got 72 nominations.
In a statement in the Palace Of Westminster shortly after 5pm on Tuesday, the runner-up she would be supporting Smith “with all of my enthusiasm and might”.
But Eagle refused to say whether she had struck a deal with Smith. “We are going to be in lockstep together arguing for an effective, united Labour party doing its job as Her Majesty’s Opposition in opposing this government,” was all she would say on the subject.
For his part, Smith made it clear that he would not have any hesitation looking leftwards in a bid to win over Corbyn supporters.
He said: “Tonight is a hugely important night for the Labour party. It’s a night when we can begin the process that is necessary to heal the divisions in our party, to unite this party, to make this into a truly powerful and united opposition and get us ready once more to win back the trust of the British people.”
Asked how he hoped to win over frustrated Corbynites, he insisted that we was cut from a similar cloth to the current leader and he said that his party should be grateful to Corbyn
“I want to say to all members of the Labour party tonight, young and old, longstanding and new members, I can be their champion. I am just as radical as Jeremy Corbyn.
“Jeremy is owed a debt of gratitude for helping Labour to rediscover its radical routes, but we do need a new generation of Labour men and women to take this party forward, to get us ready for government once more. We've been on the sidelines for too long.”
In another clear pitch to the left of the party, Smith also pledged to debate Corbyn in a “comradely, kind, gentle fashion”.