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  1. ITV Report

Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy launch bids to become next Labour leader

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Prominent backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips have joined the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader with calls to win back trust in the party's former heartlands.

Ms Phillips announced her bid with a video on Friday night, outlining her message with the tag line "Speak truth. Win power." She will kick off her campaign on Saturday with a visit to Bury North, a seat lost to the Tories in December's election.

Meanwhile Wigan MP Ms Nandy, a former shadow cabinet minister, announced her candidacy in a letter to the Wigan Post, saying she has "a deeper understanding of what has gone awry in our discredited political system" having represented her constituents since 2010.

Ms Nandy and Ms Phillips join shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis as those to have formally declared their bids.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, close Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy are also considering leadership bids.Yvette Cooper and Ian Lavery are also thought to be weighing up their support.

Launching her campaign, Ms Phillips said it was important for Labour to learn from the mistakes of the 2019 election that saw the party lose traditional heartlands to the Conservative party that helped give Boris Johnson a big majority.

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The Birmingham Yardley MP said Labour needed to elect a leader who "gets it" adding the party needed to "be brave and bold" in where they stood.

"Against a Prime Minister who blusters and lies, Labour needs a leader who will speak truth - to both the Party and the country," she said in a statement.

She continued: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to stand in this contest but listening to the debate in the days after the election, I thought, we’ve got to elect someone who gets it.

"Someone who understands how serious this defeat was. We’re a party named after the working class who has lost huge parts of its working class base. Unless we address that, we are in big trouble."

Jess Phillips says Labour a leader 'who will speak truth'.

The Remain-backing MP said Labour's attempt to try to appeal to everyone "usually means we have pleased no one."

"Now is not the time to be meek. Boris Johnson needs to be challenged, with passion, heart and precision. We can beat him. We need to speak to people's hearts, and people need to believe we really mean it when we do," she continued.

The video features Ms Phillips in her constituency of Birmingham Yardley and in Delyn, North Wales – another seat that Labour lost to the Tories, which Labour had held since 1992 - where she is seen speaking to local people.

Ms Nandy, a former shadow cabinet minister, said on Friday that the successor must be someone with "skin in the game" and called for the rejection of "the paternalism of the past".

Keir Starmer is favourite to be the next Labour leader. Credit: PA

She became one of the most prominent Labour voices for the result of the EU referendum to be implemented and criticising calls for another public vote.

"Without what were once our Labour heartlands, we will never win power in Westminster and help to build the country we know we can be," she said.

"I have heard you loud and clear when you said to earn that trust means we need a leader who is proud to be from those communities, has skin in the game and is prepared to go out, listen and bring Labour home to you."

Wigan MP Ms Nandy, a former shadow cabinet minister, announced her candidacy in a letter to the Wigan Post. Credit: PA

She said delivering Brexit should not mean "turning our backs on decency, tolerance, kindness".

"It breaks my heart that in this election so many of you felt you had no choice but to vote for a Tory party that has sent a wrecking ball through our community over the last decade," Ms Nandy added.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle has thrown his weight behind Ms Phillips telling ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand she was a "breath of fresh air."

Asked if her opposition to Mr Corbyn over the years would be seen by members as a betrayal of their own support for the Islington North MP, Mr Coyle said: "They have to look, and they have to be honest with themselves, whether they want Labour policies, whether they want to be government, whether they want to transform people's lives, or not.

"Labour is in a very, very deep hole and we absolutely have to have a leader who can reconnect - and reconnect very quickly - with, and I think Jess has buckets of charisma and will be able to connect to communities need to hear from us, better."

There are now four candidates in the race to be Labour's next leader. Credit: ITV News

Famous for not mincing her words, Mr Coyle said Ms Phillips' "straight talking, honest voice" was "what people wanted to hear" from the Labour party.

Vicky Foxcroft, MP for Lewisham Deptford, said she would be supporting Ms Nandy in the campaign.

"She's been saying for a long time and continues to say, 'we can't ignore the issues that towns are raising'. Of course, Brexit was an issue but actually there's lots of other issues."

An early survey puts Sir Keir ahead of beat Ms Long-Bailey in a run-off 61% to 39%.

Paul Brand, ITV News Political Correspondent, gives his analysis on Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips’ strength is also her weakness.

Perceived as an outspoken, down-to-earth candidate, her team think she has the common touch. They recognise that she’s an outsider but tell me that allows her to take some pretty big risks in this race - don’t expect her to censor her typically fruity language.

But it is her ability to say it how she sees it that also hinders her in this contest. Her previously brutal assessments of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership have made her a divisive figure among the membership, many of whom are deeply loyal to their current leader.

And having also been a vocal critic of Brexit, the party will have to decide whether she can really appeal to leave voters in the Midlands and north of England, who have abandoned Labour in their droves.

There’s a reason why not many politicians speak their minds the way Jess Phillips does - it’s too easy to offend people by telling them what you’re really thinking.