Now, Corbyn’s challengers are fighting each other

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jul 17, 2016 18:28 IST
Owen Smith (Right) and Angela Eagle, candidates vying to lead Britain's opposition Labour Party, are seen speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. (REUTERS)

Two candidates seeking to take on Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a leadership contest – Angela Eagle and Owen Smith – were battling each other on Sunday to decide on a single challenger, each claiming higher support than the other.

Eagle and Smith appeared on Sunday television to set out their vision for the party and the country, including on Brexit. The official Labour position was that Britain should remain in the EU, but Corbyn was flayed for allegedly not campaigning strongly enough for it.

Wednesday is the deadline for the nominations for the contest, with Corbyn already on the ballot paper as one of the candidates. His rivals, however, insist that he, like other candidates, should be supported by at least 51 party MPs, which he cannot be sure of, given last week's no-confidence motion against him.

The three could go forward for a vote of Labour members, registered supporters and union affiliates.

Eagle and Smith are keen to whittle the choice down to Corbyn and one opponent.

“I think one of us standing would be better, is the honest answer,” Smith told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “But I think the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) has got to be a grown-up organisation and come to a decision in the next couple of days as to who it is.”

Asked if the party should pick its leader based on who had more nominations, Smith said: “That’s one way in which we could do it, or we could make an agreement between ourselves. But my view is, whoever is the person who commands the larger degree of support in the PLP is the unity candidate, and that’s the person who should go forward and take Jeremy on.”

Eagle disagreed, saying: “I think we have to have the person that’s most likely to beat Jeremy Corbyn, and I think that’s me.”

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