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US News Jess Phillips urges men to 'pass the mic' on Labour leadership

13:45  19 january  2020
13:45  19 january  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Jess Phillips acknowledged it was 'very difficult' for people to stand back from the contest, but warned it would be 'embarrassing' if Labour elected another man to its Labour hopeful Jess Phillips swipes that favourite Keir Starmer should ' pass the mic ' and quit leadership battle so a woman can win.

Birmingham MP’s accusations force other contenders to defend their records during hustings for leadership .

Labour leadership challenger Jess Phillips has urged men to "pass the mic" on the top job arguing it would be "embarrassing" if Labour failed to elect a woman.

Jess Phillips standing in front of a window: Jess Phillips interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday. © NetStorage Jess Phillips interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

The prominent backbencher warned it would "look bad" and also hand "ammunition" to political opponents, who were "laughing at us".

Unlike the Conservatives, Labour has never had a female leader.

Of the five candidates running to succeed Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the party's disastrous election results, four are women, with shadow Brexit secretary and early front-runner Sir Keir Starmer the only man.

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Jess Phillips says it would be 'embarrassing' for a man to win Labour leadership and suggests Sir Keir Starmer should quit contest. Men should sometimes ' pass the mic ' if they truly believe in gender equality, says candidate.

MP joins Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry in race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Video: Time for men to 'pass the mic' (Sky)

Asked how it would look if Labour again elected a man as leader, Ms Phillips told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that it would be "true to form".

She said: "The Labour Party has a blind spot in this regard, it always has.

"It's genuinely frustrating because... it does a disservice to the Labour Party's record on women but I think it would look bad.

"I think it will be embarrassing and what's more, it gives absolute grist to the mill and ammunition to our other side. I have had Tory members of parliament laughing at us after the last time.

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British Labour leadership candidate, Jess Phillips (2L) speaks as Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer look on during the Leader hustings event in Liverpool © Getty British Labour leadership candidate, Jess Phillips (2L) speaks as Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer look on during the Leader hustings event in Liverpool

"It's not great if we can't ever seem to think that the women are good enough. When you're a woman in politics you're always the next time - oh it'll be your turn next time."

She added: "I think that if you truly believe in women's representation, sometimes... passing the mic is the greatest way to show that you truly believe in something but I think it is a very, very difficult argument to say you should stand back if you truly believe you are the best person for the job."

Ms Phillips also rejected the suggestion she was an "uber Remainer", having campaigned for s second referendum, and said there was no bid to rejoin the EU.

However, she said it was not an "honest position" to close off future options or alliances.

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A Labour Party leadership election is being held in the United Kingdom in 2020. It was triggered after the current leader , Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leadership candidate wants people who defected to rejoin as it's the only way to beat Boris Johnson. James O'Brien asked how Labour tempts back people who defected in the General Election. She replied: "All I would say is that I' m in the business of trying to govern.

The MP for Birmingham Yardley was recently forced to backtrack after she indicated she might try to take Britain back into the bloc if Brexit turned out to be damaging.

Speaking to Ridge, she said: "We've got into this position where people disagree on individual issues as if you can't then be trusted on anything else. It's a really dangerous culture.

British Labour leadership candidates, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy pose prior to setting out their vision for the party during the Leader hustings event in Liverpool © Getty British Labour leadership candidates, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy pose prior to setting out their vision for the party during the Leader hustings event in Liverpool

"People are okay if you are clear and you are honest about what you think and then they will give you a hearing on other issues, so I'm not an uber Remainer, I don't feel the need to represent myself as an uber Remainer, I am a politician who will do what I think is right."

Asked about any future move to rejoin the Brussels club, she said: "We are leaving the European Union and I don't even think amongst people who voted Remain in the original referendum, that there is any appetite to carry on having a constitutional conversation when we should be talking about the things that people actually talk about.

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Sir Keri Starmer, Jess Phillips , Emily Thornberry, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nancy, are all vying for the Labour leadership . The early front runner Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey Lisa Nandy, and Jess Phillips have already signed up for the communal hustings event at JW3 on 13 February

Jess Phillips confronted the Labour leadership frontrunner at the party's first hustingsCredit: PA:Press Association. Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips , Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy are the Labour leadership hopefulsCredit: Getty Images - Getty.

"So there is no plan to have some sort of campaign to re-join the European Union but any prime minister who wouldn't look at the merits of every single alliance that our country could have for our safety, security, peace and economic viability, with a reasoned head on, anyone who closes off any option in the future, I just don't believe that that's an honest position."

Gallery: Pictures of the week: Jan. 17 (Photos)

Meanwhile, Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Aslef trade union, told Ridge his union representatives would be meeting with the Labour Party leadership contenders over the coming days before deciding which candidate to support.

He said: "This process only delivers the candidates, the 550,000 members with one-person, one-vote will then decide which candidate they want and it's the same as my organisation.

"We will make recommendations, but (union members) will ultimately decide the nomination of Aslef to that process, it won't be Mick Whelan."

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