Angela Eagle faces prospect of ‘no confidence’ vote from constituency Labour party

Former shadow business secretary due to launch formal leadership challenge

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 11 July 2016 17:39 BST
Eagle launches leadership bid

Angela Eagle faces the prospect of a no confidence vote from her own constituency Labour party, it was revealed just hours before she launches her formal leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn.

The former shadow business secretary, who said she was standing against the Labour leader because of his inability to do the job, is set to be the topic of a “lively debate” next Friday in Wallasey with a no-confidence motion on the agenda, according to her local party’s vice chair.

Asked whether such a motion existed, Paul Davies said: “Well, there is a motion to that effect and I am sure that will be a debate at our next meeting on the 22nd…I can’t possibly say what all 1,200 people think – but it’s going to be a very lively debate.”

“Up until the 24th June Angela Eagle was supporting Jeremy Corbyn but the party was united in Wallasey…I want to see a fair election now with both members on the ballot papers,” Mr Davies told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Ms Eagle was also branded the “Empire Strikes Back candidate” after her votes for the Iraq War and tuition fees, by Labour frontbencher and Mr Corbyn's loyal ally Diane Abbott.

Ahead of launching her formal leadership challenge Ms Eagle, who nearly doubled her majority in her constituency in 2015, said: “I think it's important we all have our principles...but you also have to be in a situation where you can speak to Labour voters and the wider country – and give our party the best chance of being able to make that difference that early Labour governments made.”

She told the Daily Mirror: “We've all stood on the shoulders of what Labour governments in the past have done – if we're not in government we can't spread those chances around our society more widely.”

Ms Eagle said she believes she “would be a good prime minister for Britain”, and added: “In order to heal our country, we have got to ensure we change the Labour Party so that we can do that historic task – and I think I am the person to do that.”

The 55-year-old said her background as a “good, sensible, down-to-earth woman with northern roots” would help her lead the party. “I have got life experience and values. I'm a woman from the working class north; I understand metropolitan things too,” she said.

“I'm a Gay woman – I know the difference between hope and fear.”

Shadow health secretary Ms Abbott said she did not believe Ms Eagle could win a leadership race, citing her backing for the Iraq War and her failed bid to be deputy leader.

Angela Eagle 'not contemplating losing contest'

“You can call it Armageddon if you like but the truth is at the end of the day Labour Party members choose the leader, not MPs,” she told Good Morning Britain.

“We are going to have a leadership election with Jeremy on the ballot. I'm waiting to hear Angela say he should be on the ballot because it would be a travesty in terms of natural justice and fairness if he's not on the ballot.

“I think she's the Empire Strikes Back candidate – she voted for Iraq, she voted for tuition fees. And someone who came fourth out of five to be deputy, it's not clear to me that she can win the leadership.”

Ms Eagle announced her leadership bid on Saturday after union-backed peace talks in Brighton – aimed at resolving the impasse at the top of the party’s ranks – collapsed. There was “no realistic prospect of a compromise” over Mr Corbyn’s leadership, said deputy leader Tom Watson.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee is also due to decide this week whether the party leader must be re-nominated by MPs to run in the event of a challenge to his leadership. The Labour Party constitution says that where there is no vacancy for leader, “nominations may be sought by potential challengers”. They require 20 per cent of the party’s MPs to be valid.

Eagle repeats Corbyn warning

Ms Eagle is expected to submit a letter to the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol later today, signed by 51 of her supporters in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“I’m expecting to be on the ballot paper because the rules of the party say that the existing leader should be on the ballot paper anyway,” Mr Corbyn told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.

Christine Shawcroft, who sits on Labour's ruling NEC, said the section of party rules calling for nominations to be backed by MPs and MEPs refers to challengers, rather than the sitting leader.

She told Today: “It's quite clear to me from the rules that the section ‘any nomination’ refers to potential challengers.”

Ms Shawcroft added: “I think most of us are quite clear what the rules are saying. The only reason we are having this argument is that Jeremy Corbyn's opponents want to keep him off the ballot paper because that's their only hope of winning. When he's on that ballot paper he will win.”

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