15 May 2015

Chuka Umunna withdraws from Labour leadership contest

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has announced he has withdrawn from the Labour party leadership contest.

The shadow business secretary was the frontrunner with the bookmakers to become the next leader of the Labour party.

However, he has now announced that he no longer intends to stand because of the “scrutiny and attention” the contest has brought him.

He said he always “worried” that his leadership bid has come “too soon” and that “continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me”.

Sources close to Mr Umunna insisted that his withdrawal was not due to any negative story which he expects to appear in the media.

For all the latest developments, follow our post-election live blog

Increased scrutiny

It is understood that he was uncomfortable with the increased level of scrutiny which had been directed at him and members of his family since he declared his intention to stand for the leadership.

That leaves Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, Mary Creagh, shadow international development secretary, and shadow health mininster Liz Kendall.

His team were confident that he would secure the 35 nominations from fellow MPs required to mount a leadership bid, but he decided that it was not the right time for him to press ahead.

Mr Umunna is not at this stage endorsing any other candidate for the leadership.

Resignation statement

Here is the full statement by Chuka Umunna on withdrawing from the Labour leadership election

“Shortly before the election campaign, I made the decision, in the event that Labour was defeated and a new Leader was to be elected, to stand for the leadership of the party if there was a desire in the party for me to do so.

“I dearly hoped Labour would win the election and it was a decision I would not have to implement.

“I also thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring.

“As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.

“However since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate.

“I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.

“One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and the attention but nothing compares to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one’s life.

“Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy.

“I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as I surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid – I fear it was.

“Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me.

“I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories. I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial. Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love – the Streatham parliamentary constituency.”