Former Labour leadership contender Chuka Umunna clearly didn’t fancy getting too excited about Liz Kendall’s campaign during his appearance on the BBC’s ‘Question Time’, but the Streatham MP found ducking the topic unavoidable by the end of the show.
Conservative Business Minister Anna Soubry’s damaging assessment of Labour following her party’s surprise General Election win forced Umunna’s head above the parapet, after the 36-year-old attempted to avoid causing inter-party strife by talking around the contest, rather than about it.
Having come out in support of Kendall after withdrawing from the race, Umunna would only go as far as stating ‘the party’s got to get over Tony Blair’ and warning about ‘what message the result in September, when we elect our leader, will send to the country’ prior to Soubry taking the floor.
After exaggerating relief over the Shadow Business Secretary’s decision to stand down from the contest just a week after Ed Miliband resigned as red head in May, Soubry stuck the boot in:
“I think that the Labour party is in one hell of a mess and when I look at the back benches there are a lot of very left-wing new Labour MPs. Their party is no longer in the centre ground, so I think [Jeremy] Corbyn will come second and Andy [Burnham] will come first.”
That tirade poked the former solicitor into action, with Umunna finally stating Kendall is ‘the answer’ just before panel chair David Dimbleby wrapped things up, although Soubry could be heard saying ‘she won’t win Chuka’.
Unfortunately for those in the red tent hoping for a return to Blair’s brand of social democracy, Kendall has been on the drift in the betting for a while, with the Shadow Health Minister all the way out to 9/2 third-favourite to be next Labour leader, having been 15/8 at one stage.
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