Jess Phillips may consider Labour leadership bid

Labour backbencher Jess Phillips has said she may consider running for the party leadership if Jeremy Corbyn stands down.

She said Mr Corbyn should quit as the party's leader if Labour is not the largest party in the Commons after the next general election.

Ms Phillips, a critic of Mr Corbyn, said she "might" then make a bid for the party's top job if she believes at that time she can make a difference.

It comes after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on Friday that both he and Mr Corbyn would stand down if Labour loses the next election.

Birmingham Yardley MP Ms Phillips said it is "not impossible" for Labour to become the largest party at the next poll, but she noted a majority is unlikely.

She said: "I don't think anyone will win an election.

"It's not impossible and anything could happen. I could see the numbers last time and a lot of people said to me, 'See what happened last time'.

"What happened last time was that the Labour Party didn't win the election.

"So, it could be the biggest party and even when I look at the polls, and I see the Tories are surging forward at the moment, I actually can't see the numbers where they make up the seats that they'll lose in Scotland.

"If it was proportional representation then the Tories would end up the biggest party, but our system is weird.

"So yes, the Labour Party could be the biggest party."

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival about whether she may run for the top job, Ms Phillips said: "Might do, yes. The answer is I genuinely don't know. I'd have to see how the land lay at that moment.

"What I don't want to be is just a personality in politics. We have gone too far down that rabbit hole.

"If I stand it has to be not just because people trust me, people do trust me, it isn't just because people feel connected with that. That's not enough, it has to be about having a genuine plan for the future for our country.

"At that time, I would make that assessment about whether I was the best thing for the future of the country."

She added, laughing: "That's a big ask of someone but I am incredibly arrogant.

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn
John McDonnell, left, has said both he and Jeremy Corbyn, right, would step down if Labour loses the next election (PA)

"My husband is dead against it. He's not a member of the Labour Party but he does have a union vote.

"He would vote for me in an election but I'm not sure he voted Labour at the last one."

Ms Phillips said Labour MPs should always vote and campaign for their own party, but she called for tactical voting to unseat Boris Johnson in Uxbridge.

She claimed the PM is leading a Government which is deliberately stoking divisions.

"There has always been aggression and violence towards Members of Parliament, that bit isn't particularly new," she said.

"The bit that is new is that people's political careers are currently riding on people hating politicians and are stepping that up for their own purposes, and that I don't think has been true before.

"It pays Boris Johnson's bills for people to hate me, which is shit.

"There is no way to avoid some of the risk. It's just constant and you can never tell what is real and what isn't, and within that chaos lies fear.

"That is psychological warfare essentially."

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