Shadow secretary of state for international trade Barry Gardiner (Brent North) confirmed this morning that he will not be putting his name forward to become the next leader of the Labour Party. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after he said he was considering entering the race.
Following speculation yesterday that suggested general secretary of Unite the Union Len McCluskey had been privately encouraging Gardiner and others to mount a bid, Gardiner said he was seriously considering doing so, although McCluskey strongly denied he had been encouraging Gardiner or anyone else to stand.
In confirming that he would not be standing for the position, Gardiner said in a statement: “I want to thank all my colleagues as well as the party activists and members of the public who encouraged me to stand for the Labour leadership. I am now clear at this late stage I cannot secure sufficient nominations to proceed to the next round.
“I have therefore decided not to stand for the leadership at this time. I will continue to serve the party loyally under whichever of my colleagues has the honour of leading our party forward to win the next general election.”
One of the more surprising aspects of Gardiner announcing he was considering a run was that at the time he was in Abu Dhabi, attending a climate conference. Naturally, this made pressing the flesh and communicating with his fellow MPs a logistical challenge given he was four-and-a-half thousand miles and several time zones away from Westminster.
This leaves the race with four candidates that have made it through to the next round: Sir Keir Starmer (Holborn & St Pancras), Rebecca Long-Bailey (Salford & Eccles), Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley), and Lisa Nandy (Wigan). With the deadline for securing the necessary public nominations looming next Monday, it looks increasingly difficult for other declared candidates Emily Thornberry (Islington South & Finsbury) and Clive Lewis (Norwich South) to reach the required numbers.