Labour leadership contenders make final pitches

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Getty Images/ PA Media

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Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry have yet to reach the nominations threshold to make the ballot paper

Labour leadership contenders are making their last pitches ahead of the deadline for nominations.

The candidates need to get the backing of 22 MPs and MEPs before 14:30 GMT on Monday to make it onto the ballot.

Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long Bailey, Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy have all reached the threshold, but Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis have not.

Ms Thornberry said she was “fairly confident” she would hit the number ahead of the deadline.

The shadow foreign secretary – who currently has 10 nominations – told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme her campaign had been a “slow starter”, but added: “As long as I don’t get any slippage I’ll be fine, I’ll get across the line.”

Mr Lewis – who has four nominations so far – also remained confident as he launched his pitch for the leadership.

The shadow Treasury minister said the Brexit campaign, to take Britain out of the EU, had “racism at its heart”.

He also called on colleagues to tackle “structural sexism” and “structural racism” within the party, telling Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday: “I have never said that it is because of my colour that I am not being nominated by my parliamentary colleagues.

“But what I was saying [is] if you want to understand why we haven’t had a woman, why we haven’t had a person of colour, as leader of the Labour Party, then we have to look at the entity of the issue.”

‘We need to unite’

Speaking on the same programme, Mrs Long Bailey – who has already passed the threshold with 26 nominations – distanced herself from being the “continuity candidate” due to her support for outgoing leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The shadow business secretary said: “It annoys me when people say that. I am a person in my own right.

“I would describe myself as a socialist and I supported Jeremy from the start because he believed in many of the same things that I did, as many people within our party do.

“What we need to do now is stop labelling ourselves as Corbynites, as socialists, or whatever. We are in the Labour Party. We need to unite [and] build a programme that can win.”

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Reuters

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Mrs Long Bailey denied she was the “continuity candidate” for Jeremy Corbyn

Meanwhile, all the candidates are facing calls from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to pledge action on anti-Semitism within the party.

The community group has released a 10-point plan it wants each contender to sign up to, including making the internal disciplinary process independent and to settle all outstanding anti-Semitism cases by a fixed deadline.

Sir Keir Starmer – who is leading the contest with 68 nominations – said Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism had been “completely unacceptable” and he supported the board’s plan.

He promised to “take personal responsibility for dealing with this issue and to work alongside the Jewish community to end this crisis within our movement once and for all”.

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Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips (l-r) have also signed up to the Board of Deputies’ plans

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy – who has 24 nominations – also supported the 10 pledges, saying there had been a “collective failure of the leadership” to deal with anti-Semitism and it had “disgraced our party”.

She tweeted it had been the “most shameful period in our party’s history”, adding: “We should never again be in a position where we’re telling Jewish communities that we know better than them what constitutes racism.”

And Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips – who has 22 nominations – said she “absolutely endorsed all the pledges in full”.

She tweeted: “We need to work hard to make the Labour Party a safe space once again for the Jewish community.”

Ms Thornberry said she signed up for all the pledges “without hesitation or qualification”