Angela Eagle faces the prospect of a no confidence vote from her own constituency Labour party, it was revealed just hours before she launches her formal leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn.
The former shadow business secretary, who said she was standing against the Labour leader because of his inability to do the job, is set to be the topic of a “lively debate” next Friday in Wallasey with a no-confidence motion on the agenda, according to her local party’s vice chair.
Asked whether such a motion existed, Paul Davies said: “Well, there is a motion to that effect and I am sure that will be a debate at our next meeting on the 22nd…I can’t possibly say what all 1,200 people think – but it’s going to be a very lively debate.”
“Up until the 24th June Angela Eagle was supporting Jeremy Corbyn but the party was united in Wallasey…I want to see a fair election now with both members on the ballot papers,” Mr Davies told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Ms Eagle was also branded the “Empire Strikes Back candidate” after her votes for the Iraq War and tuition fees, by Labour frontbencher and Mr Corbyn's loyal ally Diane Abbott.
Ahead of launching her formal leadership challenge Ms Eagle, who nearly doubled her majority in her constituency in 2015, said: “I think it's important we all have our principles...but you also have to be in a situation where you can speak to Labour voters and the wider country – and give our party the best chance of being able to make that difference that early Labour governments made.”
She told the Daily Mirror: “We've all stood on the shoulders of what Labour governments in the past have done – if we're not in government we can't spread those chances around our society more widely.”
Ms Eagle said she believes she “would be a good prime minister for Britain”, and added: “In order to heal our country, we have got to ensure we change the Labour Party so that we can do that historic task – and I think I am the person to do that.”
The 55-year-old said her background as a “good, sensible, down-to-earth woman with northern roots” would help her lead the party. “I have got life experience and values. I'm a woman from the working class north; I understand metropolitan things too,” she said.
“I'm a gay woman – I know the difference between hope and fear.”
Shadow health secretary Ms Abbott said she did not believe Ms Eagle could win a leadership race, citing her backing for the Iraq War and her failed bid to be deputy leader.
“You can call it Armageddon if you like but the truth is at the end of the day Labour Party members choose the leader, not MPs,” she told Good Morning Britain.
“We are going to have a leadership election with Jeremy on the ballot. I'm waiting to hear Angela say he should be on the ballot because it would be a travesty in terms of natural justice and fairness if he's not on the ballot.
“I think she's the Empire Strikes Back candidate – she voted for Iraq, she voted for tuition fees. And someone who came fourth out of five to be deputy, it's not clear to me that she can win the leadership.”
Ms Eagle announced her leadership bid on Saturday after union-backed peace talks in Brighton – aimed at resolving the impasse at the top of the party’s ranks – collapsed. There was “no realistic prospect of a compromise” over Mr Corbyn’s leadership, said deputy leader Tom Watson.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee is also due to decide this week whether the party leader must be re-nominated by MPs to run in the event of a challenge to his leadership. The Labour Party constitution says that where there is no vacancy for leader, “nominations may be sought by potential challengers”. They require 20 per cent of the party’s MPs to be valid.
Labour's leadership battle looks more likely to end up in the courts with rebels and Jeremy Corbyn loyalists rowing over whether the leader should be able to stand in the contest automatically.
The party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet on Tuesday before ruling on whether Mr Corbyn needs the nomination of 51 MPs and MEPs to stand in the contest, and has been presented with conflicting legal advice.
Deputy leader Tom Watson's spokesman said the NEC is considering Labour-commissioned advice which states that Mr Corbyn should not be given "special treatment" and will need to get the nominations.
But some members of the NEC have obtained legal advice from Michael Mansfield, QC, which concludes that he does not need any nominations from MPs and MEPs.
Mr Mansfield's advice said: "The rules by which the Labour Party is governed are unambiguous: The leader does not require any signatures to be nominated in a leadership election where there is a potential challenger to the leadership."
Mr Corbyn has vowed to fight any possible exclusion of him from the ballot paper in the courts, and it is understood a legal challenge is likely to be launched by the anti-Corbyn camp if he is allowed to stand without the support of 51 MPs and MEPs.
The row broke out after Angela Eagle launched her bid to topple Mr Corbyn by insisting she is not on a "suicide mission" because of the Labour leader's strong support among the party membership, who will have the final say in the contest.
And she insisted it was time for Labour to have a woman leader, amid reports that former frontbencher Owen Smith could launch a rival leadership challenge.
Ms Eagle told Channel 4 News: "The Conservatives have their second woman prime minister.
"The Labour Party, the party of equality who pioneered anti-discrimination - it's about time they had their first elected woman leader."
Mr Corbyn will press ahead with a planned speech to the policy conference of Unite in Brighton on Tuesday as sources said he has been told he cannot attend the NEC meeting.
It is possible that calls will be made at the NEC for it to be delayed until next week, when a meeting had been scheduled to be held.
Meanwhile, Mr Watson told a meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) that his abandoned peace talks with union leaders had failed to find a way around the impasse between MPs and pro-Corbyn elements of the party.
He said: "For years I've been told I'm a fixer.
"Well I've tried to fix this, I've really really tried and I've failed.
"I've tried to find a way forward for the party between two apparently irreconcilable decisions.
"Clearly the vast majority of the PLP has already made it clear they wouldn't countenance a settlement that involved Jeremy staying in place."
Mr Watson's spokesman said the deputy leader acknowledged that Mr Corbyn has a big mandate from members just like he does in his elected role.
But Mr Watson told the PLP "with power comes responsibility and if 80% of the PLP had said they had no confidence in me I would resign, despite the fact I have a big mandate from members".
Independent News Service