Clive Lewis withdraws from Labour leader race

Clive Lewis has withdrawn from the Labour leadership race.
Clive Lewis has withdrawn from the Labour leadership race.
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One of the contenders to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, Clive Lewis, has withdrawn from the contest just 30 minutes before nominations closed.

The MP had secured just five backers - including himself - but needed at least 22 to get his name on the ballot paper for leader. The four who supported him - Labour MPs Rachael Maskell, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Nadia Whittome, as well as MEP Julie Ward - can now recast their votes.

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Mr Lewis, who had caused consternation among some in Scottish Labour with his backing for a second independence referendum, said it had become clear he would not get on the ballot, so had decided to withdraw in a spirit of "pluralism, diversity and generosity".

He also said he was "throwing down the gauntlet" to the other candidates to be "brave enough" to take forward the issues he'd raised in his short leadership campaign.

“For me, this election wasn’t about just the leadership of the Labour Party but about our survival as an engaging and relevant political movement that could win a path to power," he said.

“Whilst I’m disappointed not to have progressed further, I’m proud to have led the debate on key issues such as progressive alliances, electoral reform, democracy in our country, democracy within the Labour Party, racism and diversity, and the climate crisis.

"These issues aren’t going away and given the scale of our last defeat, need to tackled head on with sharp ideas and credible strategy so we can win the next election for the millions of people who deserve a Labour government."

He added: “Leadership for me is about not always saying what people want to hear, but arguing a case that you think is right. There is a big and growing strand within and around the Labour Party that is radical, democratic, internationalist, green, open and pluralist. It needs to be represented more forcefully in the party and I stand by my conviction that these are the ideas of the future.

“It’s not always easy for us as MPs to hear a tough message of democratic reform at every level of the party and of the country, especially on issues such as the open selections. But the feedback I’ve received from Labour party members has been overwhelmingly positive and it is to these members that I now turn with this message: thank you for your belief and trust in me, and know that my contribution to this election isn’t over.

"I’m going to continue to fight, inside and outside the Labour party, working with the broadest possible alliance possible, to ensure our future looks very different from our past."

After making his announcement, he tweeted: "Whilst I’m disappointed not to have progressed further, I’m proud to have led the debate on progressive alliances, electoral reform, the crisis in democracy, democracy in our party, diversity & climate change. These issues need to be tackled head on if we are to stay relevant."

Mr Lewis went on to say he had "now thrown down the gauntlet to other Labour leadership candidates and ask them if they are brave enough, strong enough, to take forward some of the issues in my manifesto. In the coming weeks I’ll be watching their responses closely before deciding who to support”