Jess Phillips will stand for Labour leader with promise to ‘speak truth, win power’

PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 19:15 03 January 2020

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips has stepped up with a bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Picture: Jess Phillips

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips has stepped up with a bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Picture: Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips has put herself in the running to replace Jeremy Corbyn with a call for a “brave and bold” response to Labour’s devastating election losses.

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The outspoken backbencher has been widely expected to stand, following Emily thornberry and Clive Lewis who have announced their bids.

The backbencher launches her campaign with a video and on Saturday will visit Bury North, with the aim of winning back Labour voters whose trust, she says, has been lost.

"I travelled around the country during the general election and what I was hearing from our amazing activists was that people don't trust us anymore," she said.

"And that's what I was hearing from voters. They don't think we are honest and they don't trust us to be the people who get to make the decisions."

Phillips, who is known for her forthright style, will campaign under the slogan "speak truth, win power" and she promised to do so "against a prime Minister who blusters and lies".

But she also appears to have every intention of speaking frankly within her own party following its election defeat.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to stand in this contest but listening to the debate in the days after the election, I thought, we've got to elect someone who gets it," she said.

"Someone who understands how serious this defeat was. We're a party named after the working class who has lost huge parts of its working class base. Unless we address that, we are in big trouble.

"There needs to be honesty in this leadership race. More important than that, there needs to be honesty with the voters who have turned away from Labour since 2005.

In a video filmed to accompany the launch, Phillips tells of how she first got into community organising, and discusses the basic issues that she says voters most fundamentally care about.

"In every single place I have lived, people want som fairly basic things.

"They want to believe that they are safe. They want to know that their children can be educated, and if they're ill, that they will be made better.

"Those things are radical to great parts of our country at the moment."

Having recently visited Delyn, a seat lost to the Tories in the 2019 election, Phillips said there is "hope and determination" to win these seats back.

She said: "Those Labour party members I met in Delyn represent the hope and determination that we possess to win again, if - and when - we can be honest. It starts with being honest. That's the test for candidates in this race."

Although only three candidates have formally announced themselves, several others are expected to step up for both the leadership and the deputy position in the party.

A favourite to the further left of the party, Rebecca Long-Bailey is seen as the closest successor to Corbyn himself and said in a Guardian opinion piece that she is "considering" a bid.

Closer to the centre, and to the Remain debate, is Sir Keir Starmer, who polling has found to be the most likely figure to take over from Corbyn after party members have cast several rounds of votes.

Lisa Nandy, David Lammy and Ian Lavery have also suggested they may stand.

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