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Abbott: Eagle is the 'Empire Strikes Back' candidate

Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott has told ITV's Good Morning Britain that Angela Eagle's support for the Iraq invasion and an increase in tuition fees show she is the "Empire Strikes Back" candidate against Jeremy Corbyn.

The Corbyn-supporting Abbott said her party's embattled leader must be on any leadership ballot as she played down talk of splits within the party and reports of political "Armageddon".

She joined Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin McGuire in doubting Eagle's success in a race with Mr Corbyn as the pair were questioned about the stature of a challenger who came fourth in a previous race for Labour's deputy leadership.

Abbott joins clamour of Labour support for Ed Miliband

Diane Abbott has become the latest Labour voice to join the resounding support being shown on all fronts from the Labour party today.

Mr Miliband refuted claims there was a 'plot' to replace him.

Abbott: Welfare cap 'will encourage arbitrary cuts'

Former leadership contender Diane Abbott is set to be among the MPs planning to defy the Labour whips when the vote is called this afternoon.

Ms Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) said she would not support the cap because it was the wrong thing to do.

She said:

Everyone wants the welfare bill to come down because spending on welfare is the price of failure.

However, we think this cap will just encourage arbitrary cuts rather than long term policies because that will bring down welfare spending.

We know, because of research by the Chartered Institute of Housing, when they did four pilots of the cap, in Haringey only 10% of households were known to have found jobs and 50% had to get more money from the council.

It's also part of the narrative to demonise benefit claimants. I don't think we should allow George Osborne to play politics with this issue, because it is people's lives.

Asked if Labour backing the plan would open the Opposition to the same charge, Ms Abbott said: "I think there is a danger it would be seen as playing politics."

Labour MPs pay tribute to 'political giant' Tony Benn

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