Eagle withdraws from UK Labour party leadership race | News | DW | 19.07.2016
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Eagle withdraws from UK Labour party leadership race

Barely eight days after challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the post of Labour leader, Angela Eagle has pulled out of the contest. She's thrown her support behind another rival, Owen Smith.

"I'm announcing tonight that I'm withdrawing from this race," Eagle told reporters at Westminster Tuesday, adding that she was giving her support to rival Owen Smith in order to boost the chances of a change of leadership.

She decided to pull out of the contest after receiving less support than Smith, according to tallies at the halfway stage in the nominating process.

The decision comes little more than a week after she became the first MP to challenge Corbyn's position in the wake of the UK referendum to leave to the European Union.

Eagle took another swipe at the incumbent Labour chief after announcing her withdrawal: "We've got a leader that doesn't have the confidence of his members of parliament and isn't reaching out to the country," she said.

"We need to have a strong and united Labour Party so we can be a good opposition, take the fight to the Conservative government and heal our country.

Corbyn, who surprised many political pundits by being elected Labour party leader last September, has been caught in a bitter power struggle between the party's left wing and more moderate factions. He lost a vote of no confidence on June 28, which triggered Eagle's challenge.

While Corbyn has presided over a dramatic increase in party membership, the euro skeptic leader lost the support of three-quarters of Labour MPs after being accused to leading a half-hearted campaign to remain in the EU.

Following the June 23 referendum result, which saw Britain voting to leave the bloc, 23 of the 31 shadow cabinet members resigned their roles, forcing the leadership challenge. But Corbyn has refused to resign.

His rivals insist that he cannot win a national election and will not give Labour a strong enough voice in Britain's upcoming Brexit negotiations. But with strong grassroots support, Corbyn will stand against Smith in a vote among party activists and supporters, with a result due on September 24.

mm/ kl (AFP, AP Reuters)

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