MARY Creagh has quit the Labour leadership race - and urged the eventual winner to pursue a more pro-business approach than Ed Miliband.
The shadow international development secretary abandoned her bid for the top job after attracting the formal backing of only nine fellow MPs.
Nominations close on Monday and so far Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have secured the 35 needed to guarantee a place on the ballot paper.
Jeremy Corbyn, the standard bearer for the left of the party, has so far reached 18.
Ms Creagh, writing in The Guardian, indicated that she would not nominate any of her rivals.
She delivered a stinging analysis of Mr Miliband’s stance, saying: “Labour cannot be the party of working people and then disapprove when some working people do very well for themselves and create new businesses, jobs and wealth.”
The Labour leader faced a string of bitter attacks from bosses of major firms during the general election campaign and Ms Creagh said that she had been censured by the party leader for alerting bus company chiefs as a courtesy to the party’s plans to increase regulation.
“I was told we wanted to ‘pick a fight’ with them, to show Labour was tackling vested interests. I was dismayed. Bus subsidy was a complex area and if we wanted reform without transport chaos, we would have to work with the companies, not against them,” she wrote.
“That exchange in Manchester town hall crystallised for me that the leader’s office did not understand business and didn’t understand what business needed from government.
“Is the Labour party having a nervous breakdown?”
Ms Creagh hit out at calls from some senior party figures for the party to boycott any cross-party campaign for the UK to remain in the EU in the planned referendum.
She was the only one of the candidates at a hustings this week not to say they would refuse to share a pro-EU platform with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
She called on the party to “make the principled and unambiguous case that staying in the EU is in our national interest”.
“Tackling inequality is why the Labour party exists. It’s in our DNA. But the next Labour leader will have to show that Labour understands the problems facing the UK’s five million self-employed people, sole traders and small businesses,” she wrote.
“That understanding must run through our party’s DNA like a golden thread”.
Labour will today unveil its shortlist for a candidate in next year’s London mayoral elections.
Frontrunners among those who have secured sufficient nominations are ex-cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and MP Sadiq Khan.
They, along with David Lammy, Diane Abbott, Christian Wolmar and Gareth Thomas, face interviews with a party panel before it is decided which will go forward to a vote by party members alongside the leadership election.