David Lammy rules himself out of Labour leadership race to replace Jeremy Corbyn

4 January 2020, 16:26

David Lammy said he didn't believe he would be right to lead the party over his stance on Brexit
David Lammy said he didn't believe he would be right to lead the party over his stance on Brexit. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Labour MP David Lammy has said he will not be entering the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as the party leader.

The former minister, who has represented the London constituency of Tottenham since 2000, said on Saturday he came to the decision after "serious consideration".

It comes after prominent backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy announced their bids to lead the party following its worst general election defeat since 1935.

Mr Lammy, who has been an ardent Remainer, suggested that his stance on Brexit rendered him unsuitable to unite the party's "vociferous factions".

He did add that he still believed Brexit was a "historic mistake".

"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," Mr Lammy said in a statement.

Mr Lammy is an ardent supporter of Remain
Mr Lammy is an ardent supporter of Remain. Picture: PA

"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 Ms 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.

Ms Phillips came third in a YouGov survey of the membership behind both shadow business secretary Ms Long-Bailey and Sir Keir, who was clear favourite. Ms Nandy was the last of seven candidates.

But the outsiders will be hoping to boost their profiles, with the race not expected to formally get under way until Tuesday before a new leader is installed by the end of March.