Remainer Labour MP David Lammy has ruled himself out of the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn saying his anti-Brexit stance would mean he could not bring together the party.
The former minister, who has represented the London constituency of Tottenham since 2000, said he would not enter the race after “serious consideration”.
His decision came after prominent backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy announced their bids to lead the party following its worst general election defeat since 1935.
The pro-EU campaigned suggested that his stance on Brexit, which he maintained was a “historic mistake”, rendered him unsuitable to unite the party’s “vociferous factions”.
“I deplore the rising xenophobia that has occurred in the wake of (the) 2016 (EU referendum) and the populist nationalism that is being whipped up by a once mainstream political party led by Boris Johnson,” Lammy said in a statement.
“A key role however for the next Labour leader is to win support from and foster unity between different vociferous factions of our party, so that we can win back the trust of our country. I am not the individual best placed for this role at this time.”
Wigan MP Ms Nandy, a former shadow cabinet minister, said on Friday that the successor must be someone with “skin in the game” and called for the rejection of “the paternalism of the past”.
Earlier that evening, outspoken Birmingham Yardley MP Phillips confirmed her bid with a call to elect “a different kind of leader”.
Both are seen as coming from the party’s centre-left and will face confirmed contenders shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis.
Others, including shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and the current leadership’s favourite Rebecca Long-Bailey, are also expected to enter the race.