In the past few minutes, Jess Phillips has confirmed that she is pulling out of the Labour leadership race, saying the party needs a candidate who can unite people across its movement. In a video message, she said: ‘I have to be honest with myself, as I said I always would be throughout this campaign, that at this time that person isn’t me. In order to win the country, we need to find a candidate in this race who can do all that and then take that message out to the country of hope and change for things to be better.’
Phillips appeared to have accepted that she wasn’t going to get through to the ballot paper at the weekend when she penned a piece for the Guardian describing her performance at the party’s first hustings as ‘awful’, and vowed to be more true to herself. It’s the kind of thing that’s rather easier to say when you know you’re not going to win the contest – she had failed so far to secure any nominations from affiliated organisations including trade unions or from constituency Labour parties, which suggested that the membership was not particularly enthusiastic about her, despite apparently recognising her more than rival Lisa Nandy.
I understand that failing to secure the nomination of big trade union Usdaw was what sounded the death knell for the candidate’s hopes. Had the moderate shop workers’ union backed Phillips, it might have been reasonable for her campaign to try to continue.