Eagle falls as Smith prepares to challenge Corbyn for Labour leadership

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Owen Smith

WITH Theresa May having successfully fashioned her leopard printed posterior firmly into the Downing Street sofa, the calamity kids on the opposition benches took a minor step towards ironing out their own leadership impasse.

Angela Eagle has withdrawn from the very Labour leadership contest she herself provoked, clearing the path for the opportunistic thunder stealing Owen Smith to challenge Jeremy Corbyn, who has steadfastly resisted attempts from younger Blairite colleagues to shunt him off to the retirement home.

“I want to thank my own supporters for the faith that they showed in me in this leadership election. We’ve finished the first day of nominations.Owen Smithhas a lead, and I think that it’s in the best interests of the Labour party that we now come together so that we can have one candidate,” she told the BBC.

“So I’m announcing tonight that I’m withdrawing from this race and supporting Owen. I would like to congratulate Owen on coming top in this race and then going on to take onJeremy Corbyn.”

Final results from the initial ballot of MPs and MEPs suggested that Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, won 72 nominations, while Smith, a former shadow minister for Wales, secured 90.

The Welshman who claims he broadly supports Corbyn’s policies but not his leadership, nor ability to win over middle England, will now go head to head with the embattled leader who officially lost the confidence of his MPs in a post-Brexit vote.

Resisting calls to resign from almost every Labour figure ever to hit a headline with the exception of his shadow chancellor, equally reviled by the Blairite wing, Corbyn will be confident of victory over the challenger, counting on the mass support among party members which saw him secure an unparalleled leadership mandate only last year.

The final vote will take place in September and Corbyn is the heavy bookies favourite, currently enjoying a 22 point lead with 56 per cent of the membership set to support him, in contrast to just 34 per cent favouring Smith. 

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