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Angela Eagle ‘set to challenge Jeremy Corbyn’ for Labour Party leadership

Nick Duffy June 28, 2016

Out Labour MP Angela Eagle is allegedly set to run for Labour leadership as calls for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation intensify.

Jeremy Corbyn sparked an internal party rift this week when he sacked Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn amid a rumoured leadership challenge in the wake of the EU referendum.

Mr Corbyn this afternoon resoundingly lost a confidence vote among the party’s MPs, by a vote of 172 to 40 – with around 16 abstentions.

According to ITV, rebels have agreed that out MP Angela Eagle, who resigned this week as Shadow Business Secretary and First Secretary of State, will challenge for the leadership.

ITV News reprorts that “Angela Eagle is set to formally challenge Jeremy Corbyn over the Labour leadership”, with a formal announcement “most likely to happen tomorrow if Corbyn does not resign”.

Ms Eagle, a left-winger who was instrumental to Corbyn’s leadership until this week, had allegedly agreed a deal with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson following Mr Corbyn’s crushing defeat among MPs this afternoon.

If victorious, she would be the UK Labour Party’s first openly gay leader – though Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale came out last year.

Just last month, Ms Eagle told PinkNews that she would happily stand as leader of the party.

She hinted to PinkNews at the time: “I have to step very carefully here because we have a leader already… But, I enjoyed doing PMQs, let’s put it that way. I don’t think I did too badly.”

As she joined the majority of her colleagues in resigning from the shadow cabinet this week, she told the Mr Corbyn that the party needed a leader “who can unite, not divide”.

Rumours of Ms Eagle replacing Mr Corbyn first circulated in April, after frontbenchers and donors said that they see her as a viable replacement for Mr Corbyn, claiming she could unite the party in the event of a Labour civil war

The MP for Wallasey has enjoyed strong performances in the House of Commons since her appointment to the Shadow Cabinet last year, boosting the morale of Labour MPs.

Ms Eagle also performed well when she became the first LGBT MP to front Prime Minister’s Questions for her party.

The leader’s office had insisted the non-binding vote would have no impact on his leadership as he has a mandate from Labour members, but rebels have intensified calls for him to resign.

The shake up comes amid accusations that Mr Corbyn’s attempts to persuade his supporters to ‘Remain’ in the European Union was ‘lacklustre’.

At time of publication, more than 50 MPs have resigned from the front bench – including 20 of Mr Corbyn’s 31 shadow cabinet members, and many of the party’s most prominent figures.

More: Angela Eagle, EU, EU Referendum, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, labour leader, LGBT

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