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Labour MPs debate who is best to challenge Jeremy Corbyn: Angela Eagle or Owen Smith?

Owen Smith (left) and Angela Eagle. Credit: PA Wire

From the calls I've been getting this morning, it would appear my earlier blog has not gone down well in some quarters of the Labour Party.

I write what I am told, by those who hold very senior positions in the party (or at least they did before they walked out en masse from the Shadow Cabinet last week).

Anyhow, some Labour MPs challenge my source's claim that Owen Smith 'is picking up support within the party'.

He's not, they insist. That's only what those around him are trying to claim.

Angela Eagle was - and is - the best person to launch the challenge against Jeremy Corbyn, say those to whom I have spoken this morning.

Jeremy Corbyn has resisted calls to step down. Credit: Reuters

So what's the truth?

Neither Ms Eagle nor Mr Smith are hugely well known outside the Westminster bubble.

But - given the choice - according to the Labour MPs I've spoken to today, Angela Eagle easily edges it: she stands in for Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions; she took part in the ITV debate in the referendum against Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom; she has much more experience in Parliament.

And they are all justifiable claims.

What it tells us, is that there is a real struggle going on in the Labour Party over how to change the leader and who is the best person to do it.

I should be clear: all Labour MPs I speak to would prefer Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

That would, they say, allow Labour to have a proper debate and contest "just like the Tories are" (I presume without the drama and backstabbing that occurred with Boris and Gove).

But if Mr Corbyn won't go - or isn't allowed to (there are claims his advisers are preventing him from resigning) - then someone has to challenge him through the party's democratic process.

But MPs know it has to be *someone* - not *some people*.

And if they want to have any chance of beating Mr Corbyn in a contest which will be decided by party members - they need to decide who that one person should be.

Angela Eagle or Owen Smith.

One or the other.

But not both.

And the 172 MPs who supported the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn need to back one candidate - even if that has to be at the expense of their preferred choice.