Owen Smith enters Labour leadership race

A hustings period will begin on Friday, July 22 until Friday, September 16 and the victor will be announced at a special conference on Saturday, September 24 - a year after Mr Corbyn was elected leader in a landslide vote.

Jeremy Corbyn was in Blackpool in May when he addressed members of the Fire Brigades Union at the national conference at the Imperial Hotel in North Shore.

But the atmosphere between the Labour leader's supporters and most of his parliamentary party has become so sulphurous that his words are likely to have little impact on either side.

The vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is engaged in a battle to replace Mr Corbyn after most of his shadow cabinet resigned and 172 MPs backed a no confidence motion in the party leader following the European Union referendum.

More than a third (34%) said Mr Smith has a better chance than Mr Corbyn (27%) with a similar figure for Angela Eagle (36% to 32%).

"This branch supports Jeremy's continuation as our democratically elected leader, and urges MPs to stop undermining him, and start attacking the Tories", the motion read.

To join Mr Corbyn on the ballot paper, he will have to secure nominations from a fifth of the Parliamentary Labour Party and MEPs.

Mr Smith's announcement came amid reports that the NEC has suspended all local Constituency Labour Party meetings until the end of the leadership campaign following complaints of harassment and intimidation.

But half (50%) of Labour voters backed Mr Corbyn over Ms Eagle (23%) to win an election, and 44% backed the leader against Mr Smith (26%). But she has now told supporters she will back Mr Smith in the leadership contest.

"I want to see a vision for the country and a clear plan of how the Labour party will deal with the important issue of Brexit - so I am genuinely undecided at the moment".

"He will lead us towards achieving a fairer, kinder, more equal society".

This latest development in the Labour leadership saga comes just a few days after the NEC ruled that the Labour leader will automatically be on the ballot for the upcoming leadership contest.

The party will announce the election timetable on Thursday, with contest expected to take two months.

The decision to automatically include the veteran socialist on the leadership ballot comes following nearly six hours of closed door discussions, with 33 members of the NEC participating in the vote that came out in favour of Corbyn by 18 votes to 14.

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