Jess Phillips drops out of the Labour leadership race

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry. Photograph: Getty/TNE.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry. Photograph: Getty/TNE. - Credit: Archant

Jess Phillips has dropped out of the Labour leadership race - leaving four candidates attempting to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

Speculation was rife that Phillips would drop out after the Birmingham Yardley MP was missing from a hustings event organised by the GMB union, whose support could prove crucial to the candidates still hoping to make it on to the final ballot paper.

Aides said her absence from the GMB event was due to an unavoidable appointment elsewhere, but Phillips shortly after made an announcement to her supporters.

Announcing her decision to pull out of the Labour leadership race, she said: "I truly believe that unless we talk to the country on their terms, not just on ours, that we won't be able to make the gains we need to win an election - and (to) do what everyone in the Labour movement wants to do, and that is make people's lives better.

"In order to do that, the Labour Party will need to select a candidate that can unite all parts of our movement - the union movement, the members and elected representatives - I have to be honest that at this time, that person isn't me.

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"In order to win the country, we are going to have to find a candidate in this race who can do that and take that message out to the country of hope and change for things to be better."

On Monday the MP said it would be a "bold roll of the dice" for Labour members to elect her as leader.

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Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer is the frontrunner in the Labour contest, having already secured his place on the final ballot paper as a result of nominations from the unions Unison and Usdaw and the Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA), an affiliate group.

Sir Keir, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and former shadow cabinet minister Lisa Nandy were all at the GMB hustings in London.

Candidates need the nominations of three Labour affiliates, including at least two unions, which amount to at least 5% of affiliate members.

The only other route on to the ballot paper is by receiving nominations from at least 33 constituency Labour parties (CLPs).

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