Barry Gardiner rules himself out of Labour leadership bid
Barry Gardiner has ditched his bid to be Labour leader.
The Shadow International Trade Secretary said he had left it too late to get the 22 nominations he needed to get through to the next round of the contest.
Gardiner stunned Westminster on Wednesday when it emerged he was considering throwing his hat into the ring.
His announcement was even more surprising given he was in Abu Dhabi at a climate change conference, and therefore unable to meet MPs face-to-face to press his case.
But after a day of phone conversations with colleagues, he conceded that his chances of succeeding Jeremy Corbyn had gone.
Gardiner said: "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 that 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."
His announcement came as it emerged that three more candidates have joined Sir Keir Starmer in the next round of the leadership race.
Rebecca Long Bailey, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy have each received at least 22 MP and MEP nominations.
It looks highly unlikely, however, that either Clive Lewis or Emily Thornberry will hit the target in time for the deadline next Monday afternoon.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Thornberry has seven nominations, while Lewis has four.
Meanwhile, Ian Murray - the only Labour MP in Scotland - has made it through to the next round of the deputy leader race after receiving 29 nominations.
He joins Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, who now has the backing of 71 colleagues.
Murray said: "I’m overwhelmed by the positive response I’ve received from colleagues, as well as Labour members from across the UK.
"I’m now relishing the chance to get out there and speak to members in every region and nation of the UK during the campaign.
"This is an opportunity to rebuild the Labour Party into an alternative government for the future, not a protest movement of the past.”