Live Updates: Corbyn Calls On Eagle To "Think For A Moment" Over Leadership Challenge

    Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle is due to officially launch her leadership bid on Monday.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is preparing for an exodus of his shadow cabinet after sacking Hilary Benn overnight.

    Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander led the way by sending a resignation letter declaring that a change of leadership was "essential".

    A Labour source told BuzzFeed News that up to half of the shadow cabinet was expected to follow her lead, plus a raft of junior spokespeople.

    It comes two days after Britain voted to leave the European Union and David Cameron resigned as prime minister.

    But Corbyn stood firm against the attempted coup and insisted he was going nowhere. A spokesman said: "There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate."


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    Possible leadership contender Smith warns of Labour split

    Former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, touted as another potential leadership challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, has raised the prospect of the Labour party splitting.

    Smith's former shadow cabinet colleague Angela Eagle appeared on ITV's Peston on Sunday show ahead of her formal leadership bid tomorrow, where she refused to confirm Corbyn should automatically be given a place on the ballot paper even if he can't get the nominations of 20% of Labour MPs and MEPs (50).

    Corbyn's view is that he does not need the nominations, partly owing to the fact he lost a vote of no confidence in his leadership 172-40. This raises the possibility of the party being split; either if Corbyn wins the eventual leadership vote, or if he is denied a place on the ballot.

    On Sunday morning, Smith tweeted:

    On July 27 I asked @jeremycorbyn 3 times if he was prepared to see our party split & worse, wanted it to. He offered no answer 1/2

    2/2 in the same meeting, in response to the same question @johnmcdonnellMP shrugged his shoulders and said 'if that's what it takes.'

    He added that he was "not prepared to stand by" and see the party split.

    I am not prepared to stand by and see our party split. And I have asked to meet with Jeremy again tomorrow to see how we can stop that.

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    Corbyn "disappointed" at leadership challenge

    Jeremy Corbyn has told the BBC he is "disappointed" by a looming formal leadership challenge from former shadow cabinet member Angela Eagle.

    Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn said Eagle was "free to do that if she wishes", but urged her to "think for a moment" about her decision.

    "This is an opportunity when we could be putting enormous pressure of this Tory government on inequality, injustice and poverty," Corbyn said.

    Corbyn, who said Labour was a "party that's going places and doing very well", insisted he would automatically be on the leadership ballot if challenged, and suggested he would go to court if Labour's National Executive Committee ruled the opposite.

    Last week, Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol said almost 130,000 people had joined the party as members since the EU referendum, taking it to more than half a million overall.

    Corbyn won almost 60% of the vote when elected as leader last September.

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    Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle has said she will launch a leadership bid on Monday in a fresh attempt to remove Jeremy Corbyn as the party's leader.

    In a statement, she said that Corbyn was unable "to lead an organised and effective" opposition.

    Eagle said she "will explain my vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour party can make."

    After a formal contest has launched, Labour members will vote on who they want as their leader.

    When Corbyn was elected into the position just nine months ago, he won with a higher proportion of the vote than Tony Blair gained in the 1994 party leadership election.

    More than 100,000 new members have signed up to the Labour party since the majority of shadow cabinet ministers quit in protest at Corbyn's leadership, and he lost a non-binding vote of confidence from MPs.

    Eagle is also due to appear on ITV's Peston on Sunday show tomorrow. Her statement said:

    "I want to thank our deputy leader Tom Watson, the chair of the parliamentary Labour party John Cryer and chief whip Rosie Winterton and the union movement for trying to find a solution to the impasse Labour faces with a leader who has failed to fulfil his first and foremost duty, that is to lead an organised and effective parliamentary Labour party that can both hold the government to account and demonstrate we are ready to form a government in the event of a general election.

    "On Monday morning I will announce my candidature for leader of the Labour party. I will explain my vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour party can make."

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    Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has called off talks with unions after hitting a wall over Jeremy Corbyn's future at the top of the party.

    Watson said that Corbyn's declaration that he would continue as leader "come what may", alongside talks between Watson, Unite's Len McCluskey, parliamentary Labour party (PLP) chair John Cryer, and chief whip Rosie Winterton had complicated matters.

    "This means there is no realistic prospect of reaching a compromise that satisfies the majority of colleagues in the PLP," Watson said in a statement on Saturday.

    "There is little to be achieved by pursuing wider conversations with our union affiliates at this time," he added.

    McCluskey has been a vocal supporter of Corbyn throughout his leadership, last week calling him a "man of steel" in the face of Labour's current turmoil.

    On concluding the talks, Watson thanked McCluskey for the good faith he had shown throughout, and said conversations were conducted with "a spirit of openness and comradeship".

    Labour's MP for Pontypridd, Owen Smith, who had been holding off launching a challenge to Corbyn's leadership in the hope that talks could solve the rift said he was "deeply disappointed" that they had broken down without a satisfactory resolution.

    "This is the greatest crisis facing Labour in generations and it comes at a time when our country is in desperate need of a united Labour Party to speak for Britain," Smith wrote in a statement, adding that he was worried that there were still people in the party who were intent on splitting it up.

    "The Labour movement must come together to avoid this at all costs," he said. "I remain committed to doing anything necessary to prevent a split and unite the party."

    Responding to Watson's announcement on Sky News, Corbyn thanked unions, from their leadership to grassroots membership, for their support of the Labour party.

    He called for his parliamentary party colleagues to listen to the unions and put an end to the division that has pushed Labour to crisis point in recent weeks.

    "I urge all my colleagues to listen very carefully to them and indeed come together," Corbyn said. "Come together to oppose what this government is doing to the most vulnerable within our society."

    Asked whether he found the continued attempts by Labour MPs to oust him as leader demeaning, he deflected the suggestion. "Nothing's demeaning at all," he said. "I'm very happy!"

    It now means Corbyn is almost certain to face a leadership challenge next week, with former shadow cabinet members Angela Eagle and Owen Smith his most likely opponents.

    Read Watson's full statement:

    "At the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting on Monday I gave a commitment to hold talks with union representatives to find a way forward for our party.

    "Since then I have met with Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey along with John Cryer, the Chair of the PLP, and chief whip Rosie Winterton.

    "I felt we made significant progress during those talks, which were designed to find a solution to the impasse the party finds itself in. It is my strong belief that those discussions could have formed a basis for further talks with union representatives.

    "However, since the talks began Jeremy has publicly declared his intention to continue as leader come what may. This means there is no realistic prospect of reaching a compromise that satisfies the majority of colleagues in the PLP.

    "It is with regret and profound sadness that I have concluded there is little to be achieved by pursuing wider conversations with our union affiliates at this time.

    "The Labour Party was founded with the explicit aim of pursuing the Parliamentary path to socialism. Every Labour leader needs to command the support of their MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as party members, in order to achieve that. It is clear to all that Jeremy has lost the support of the PLP with little prospect of regaining it.

    "I want to thank Len McCluskey for the good faith he has shown during our conversations, which have been conducted in a spirit of openness and comradeship throughout.

    "We need a strong and united Labour party in Parliament. I will continue to do everything I can to achieve this. If circumstances change I hope talks can be resumed."

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    Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom are the final two candidates for the Conservative leadership, and will now be balloted among approximately 150,000 party members, with a decision expected 9 September. The winner will take over from David Cameron as party leader and prime minister. To be successful, a candidate must achieve a simple majority.

    May, who quietly campaigned for Remain, has been seen as the prominent frontrunner. In the second round of voting she received the backing of 199 MPs.

    Leadsom, a vocal Leave campaigner, battled for a share of the votes with Michael Gove, the justice secretary, and received 84 votes. Gove was eliminated in the second round with 46 votes.

    The result means the UK will soon have its second female prime minister.

    Following the vote, May said the country needs "strong, proven leadership" that only she can provide. "Those are the things my colleagues have voted for in overwhelming numbers today, and I am confident they will win the support of our members – and the support of the country as a whole."

    Also speaking after the vote, former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who campaigned for Leave, told reporters Leadsom had a ''velvet glove of compassion" – and denied she was simply the right-wing candidate.

    Ian Duncan Smith denies Andrea Leadsom is just the right wing candidate "she's an optimist"

    Speaking after the vote, Gove said he was "naturally disappointed" in the result.

    Thanks to all who supported me. Congratulations to @TheresaMay2016 and @andrealeadsom. All the best with the campaign.

    Gove declined to answer questions from reporters on the outcome of the vote. Instead he praised both women as "formidable politicians" and said it was now in the hands of party members to decide the country's next leader.

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    Andrea Leadsom’s Ugandan Project Has Ties To An Anti-Gay Christian Group

    Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom has organised a school exchange project for the last 10 years with a Ugandan centre co-run by an anti-gay Christian group that performs "gay cure" ministries and whose founder condemned homosexual love as "a sin", BuzzFeed News has revealed.

    Speaking in Parliament in 2013, Leadsom praised the project she set up in 2006 with Richard Johnson, who "runs a fantastic youth centre in Uganda", called the Discovery Centre. The project involves sending UK students to the centre for conferences and meetings.

    The Discovery Centre – whose stated goal is "to promote the gospel and kingdom of Jesus Christ" – is a joint project between a UK-based charitable trust run by Johnson and Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Uganda, BuzzFeed has learned.

    However, YMAV also runs "gay cure" ministries, its website shows. In Amsterdam, YWAM's "Kompassion Ministry" works to "help broken people…who struggle with their unwanted homosexual orientation".

    YMAV's founder also wrote in his book that homosexuality as a "sin", referring to it as "counterfeit love". Leadsom had not responded to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News by the time of publication.

    Special correspondent James Ball reports.

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    Theresa May has taken a swipe at leadership contender Andrea Leadsom, on the day of the second round of Tory voting.

    In an apparent swipe at Leadsom, who appears to be gathering support among MPs, a spokesperson for May pointedly referred to the energy minister's statement this morning that EU nationals would have leave to remain in the UK.

    The spokesperson said:

    Andrea Leadsom's commitment to give permanent residence to foreign criminals is concerning - and is exactly the kind of misjudgment that her inexperience can cause. That's why we need strong, proven leadership - something only Theresa can offer.

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    Andrea Leadsom has responded to questions about her CV.

    Leadsom, one of the leading candidates for the Tory leadership, has been speaking about her CV after allegations she may have exaggerated elements of it.

    She denied that she had ever claimed to be an fund manager, despite the fact that her CV – released on Wednesday – appeared to list one of her previous roles as a "senior investment officer and head of corporate governance".

    Speaking on Sky News this morning, Leadsom said her CV was "absolutely" correct.

    In a raft of interviews, she also spoke to BBC News, and reiterated that her CV had not been changed. Leadsom ran through her former positions, which ranged from working in Sainsbury's to her 25 years in finance. "My CV is incredibly varied and it is all absolutely true," she said. "My CV is exactly as I have set it out."

    Leadsom backed the claims made by supporters, such as armed forces minister Penny Mordant, that due to her career in the city she was used to handling billions worth of sums. She said there had been a "misunderstanding" of what her roles – and the roles within the city – entailed. While she once again said that she had never been a fund manager, she maintained she had worked in the markets, and in banking, and those positions required handling of sums of money.

    Former colleagues at Barclays and Invesco Perpetual also told the Financial Times they were surprised by some of Leadsom's former roles, specifically her claim to have been Barclay's youngest ever director. "I think some of the claims about her seniority are somewhat fanciful," one told the FT.

    Leadsom also laid out some other key lines for her leadership.

    Among them were that she was not a fan of the gay marriage legislation – she indicated she would have preferred to make civil unions open to heterosexuals – and that she would review the HS2 railway decision, according to an interview with ITV. She also addressed why she had not yet published her tax returns, unlike other candidates, saying it was an attempt to keep the private lives of MPs private. Finally, she said she would hold a vote to repeal the fox hunting law.

    Andrea Leadsom tells me she would hold a vote to bring back fox hunting.

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    Andrea Leadsom’s Charity Is Bankrolled By Her Offshore Banker Brother-In-Law

    A charity launched by Andrea Leadsom has received its main financial support from a foundation run by her sister and funded by her brother-in-law, a major Conservative donor and offshore investment banker, BuzzFeed News has revealed.

    Leadsom's sister is married to Peter de Putron, a Channel Islands investment banker who has donated more than £520,000 to the Conservative party since Leadsom became a candidate for parliament – £80,000 of which went to her office or constituency party.

    But a foundation connected to de Putron also donated £670,000 to a charity established by Leadsom that has been accused of serving to further her political career.

    Dr Miriam Silver, a clinical psychologist who was involved in the charity network in its early years, wrote:

    I felt, cynically perhaps, that there was a second agenda designed to promote the MP who founded the project and her political party which was of more importance than our clinical goals, although this was never explicit.

    Special correspondent James Ball reports.

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    Meanwhile, Owen Smith has called for unity in the face of Labour rifts – and urged his party for more time.

    Former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said in a statement that he is working with union leaders and entrenched Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to "heal the rifts" in the party.

    Corbyn, who has been urged to resign by former and current Labour MPs, has continued to say he will not stand down.

    In a statement on Thursday, Smith said he had spoken to Corbyn and Len McCluskey, a Corbyn backer and the leader of the Unite union, and that talks between the Labour leader and his deputy, Tom Watson, had been "productive" – but were likely to continue over the weekend. He added that Corbyn has received the latest meetings with "an open mind" and called on party members and MPs to stop infighting.

    Smith, who said he had been contacted by hundreds of Labour party members, admitted he feared the party could split. "I share those fears and call on everyone in our movement to do all we can to avert such a disastrous outcome," he said.

    The former shadow minister had been discussed as a possible leadership contender, alongside Angela Eagle. But in the past week, he appears to have stood aside to allow Eagle a potentially clear run at the position.

    "I believe that all of us whose priority is to restore unity in the Labour movement and give us a chance to defeat our only true enemy, the Tories, should give these talks every chance to succeed," he added.

    Watson is meeting the Unite leader today.

    Len McCluskey meeting Tom Watson now. I understand he'll say now is wrong time to mount a leadership challenge while negotiations ongoing

    The two are also meeting John Cryer, chair of the parliamentary party, and Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton.

    Corbyn faces serious opposition from his own MPs, 172 of whom voted against him in a non-binding motion of no confidence last week.

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    Andrea Leadsom: "I truly believe we can be the greatest nation on earth."

    Andrea Leadsom has formally launched her bid for the Conservative leadership, saying she was for "prosperity, not austerity" and outlining her plans for the British economy post-Brexit.

    "Let's banish the pessimists," the energy minister said to loud applause during her address at Millbank Tower.

    Leadsom – who was introduced by armed forces minister and fellow staunch Leave campaigner Penny Mordaunt – has emerged as the leading pro-Brexit candidate for the Tory leadership. Her nearest rival is Michael Gove, who after dramatically betraying Boris Johnson appears to be struggling to gather support among MPs.

    The energy minister made a pitch for aspirational values, telling supporters: "I truly believe that we can be the greatest nation on earth."

    "Together we will write another great chapter of prosperity and tolerance and hope," she said. Leadsom sought to reassure the markets that the UK could cope with leaving the EU. She went on to say that the stock market had already recovered, and that the lowered pound would be good for exports.

    "Trade must be the top priority," she said. She went on to outline how she wanted to see "higher pay for the many". Leadsom told an enthusiastic crowd: "I want to lead a nation where anyone who aims high can achieve their dreams."

    Touching on immigration, she said although the country need "fair and controlled" immigration, EU nationals already here legally "would be welcome to stay".

    "I will not use people's lives as bargaining chips," she added, in a possible swipe at leading Tory candidate Theresa May, who has yet to comment on the status of EU nationals already resident in the UK.

    Leadsom ended by telling supporters: "Let us unite and together we will write another great chapter, one of prosperity, tolerance, and hope."

    Folllowing her speech, a crowd walked to parliament in support of her leadership bid.

    Stop everything and watch this video of Andrea Leadsom's march on parliament.

    Leadsom did not march with her supporters, instead getting a car to her office in parliament.

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    Theresa May Wins First Round Of The Tory Leadership Race

    Home secretary Theresa May won a substantial victory in the first round of the Conservative party leadership election, with anti-EU challenger Andrea Leadsom coming in second.

    Five candidates stood in the ballot, which saw disgraced former cabinet minister Liam Fox finish last and exit the race. He was joined by Stephen Crabb, who later announced he would be dropping out after coming second-last.

    May won 165 votes in the secret ballot, just over 50% of the 329 Tory MPs who took part in the contest. Leadsom, a junior energy minister who has no previous cabinet experience but rose to prominence as part of the Vote Leave campaign, came second on 66 votes.

    Tory leadership election first round (ballot of MPs): May 165 Leadsom 66 Gove 48 Crabb 34 Fox 16 FOX OUT

    Justice secretary Michael Gove came third on 48 votes and work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb took 34.

    A further ballot of MPs will be held on Thursday to reduce the three remaining candidates to two. Approximately 150,000 ordinary Conservative members will then be asked to vote on which of these two MPs they want to be party leader – and therefore prime minister – with the result announced on 9 September.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Conservative party grandees have been caught making unflattering remarks about the leadership candidates.

    Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind filmed in Sky News Westminster studio making remarks about Tory leadership candidates

    Theresa May is "bloody difficult" to work with and Andrea Leadsom has said "extremely stupid things" about Brexit, according to former cabinet minister Ken Clarke.

    But Clarke, who was caught making the comments during an apparently unguarded conversation with fellow party grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind at the Sky News studios, reserved more negative commentary for justice secretary Michael Gove.

    Clarke said that Gove made "wild" comments during a discussion about Syria or Iraq and that Liam Fox, who he said was "much more right-wing" than himself, was raising his eyebrows in shock.

    "I think with Michael as prime minister we'd go to war with at least three countries at once," Clarke said.

    Rifkind piled on the pressure and said: "I don't mind who wins as long as Gove comes third." The final two remaining leadership candidates will be voted on by Conservative party members.

    Clarke also criticised other leadership candidates who hope to succeed prime minister David Cameron. "Theresa is a bloody difficult woman but you and I worked with Margaret Thatcher," he said. "I get on all right with her, and she is good."

    He cast doubt on May's experience, despite the fact she has the most ministerial experience of any other candidate. "She's been at the home office far too long, so I only know in detail what her views are on the home office," Clarke said.

    "She doesn't know much about foreign affairs."

    Clarke, who is often referred to as a "big beast" of the Conservative party, was also disparaging about Leadsom, who campaigned to leave the EU.

    "She is not one of the tiny band of lunatics who think we can have a sort of glorious economic future outside the single market," he said.

    "So long as she understands that she's not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she's been saying."

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    Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom is still facing questions over a retweet that said the UK is "overrun by foreigners".

    Andrea Leadsom has come under fire after she retweeted a comment that said the UK is "overrun by foreigners".

    Leadsom, who has the support of the controversial Leave.EU campaign as well as UKIP's biggest donor, Arron Banks, appeared to retweet the remark on 20 June.

    Prominent Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom RTing tweet about "country overrun by foreigners"

    Supporters of rival leadership candidate Stephen Crabb have criticised Leadsom for sharing the comment to her Twitter followers.

    A spokesperson for Leadsom told the Huffington Post on Monday that she "did not retweet the message" and suggested it "was fabricated in some way" because the tweet no longer exists.

    "It appears that the message in question never existed, but was fabricated in some way," a spokesperson said. "We are continuing to investigate how the impression was created that Andrea retweeted this message. We will not speculate about those circumstances."

    But multiple websites that track tweets that are deleted by MPs show that Leadsom retweeted the comment. The account that initially sent the message has since been deactivated and it is therefore unclear whether Leadsom deleted the retweet herself.

    A spokesperson for Leadsom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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    Here's what you need to know this morning:

    Conservative MPs vote on their next leader today.

    Tory MPs will vote in the first round of the leadership contest today. Voting opens at 11am and will run through to 6pm. We should know the results by 7pm.

    Here's how it works: There are five MPs who've put themselves forward – home secretary Theresa May, energy minister Andrea Leadsom, justice secretary Michael Gove, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, and former defence secretary Liam Fox.

    One MP will be voted out in each round (the next vote will take place on Thursday and then Tuesday again) until there are only two MPs left on the ballot. The vote will then be opened out to around 150,000 Conservative party members. Let the games begin.

    Andrea Leadsom didn't go down well at Tory leadership hustings.

    Tory leadership candidates faced a grilling from MPs in a committee room in parliament last night – but Andrea Leadsom stumbled during the hustings as she made her pitch, according to a cabinet minister present.

    Leadsom, who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU, was grilled over her links to controversial campaign group Leave.EU which has endorsed her leadership bid.

    One cabinet minister said she was asked three times about her backing from UKIP and Leave.EU. "When you're asked to say you're not UKIP at a hustings to be leader of the Conservative party, you're in trouble," he said. "It was a car crash." Another MP said her pitch was a "fucking shambles".

    A self-selecting survey of Tory members on ConservativeHome found that Leadsom was the most popular choice to be the next Tory leader. She was also backed last night by ex–London mayor Boris Johnson, who believes she has "the zap, the drive, and the determination" to be the next PM.

    Read the full report by senior political correspondent Emily Ashton.

    Breitbart UK editor considers standing for leader of UKIP.

    We've got leadership elections in the Conservative party, the Green party, and also UKIP to look forward to this summer, after Nigel Farage announced his resignation on Monday morning.

    Now Raheem Kassam, the London editor-in-chief of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart, has said he is considering running to become UKIP leader.

    Kassam, who previously worked as Farage's close aide during the 2015 general election campaign, unexpectedly told BBC Newsnight he is considering running for the leadership.

    "I intend to shake up the leadership contest," he later told BuzzFeed News. "Maybe by running. Maybe another way."

    Kassam, 29, who has never held elected office and has previously worked at variety of right-wing campaign groups, also claimed to have the backing of his former boss.

    "Farage knows and he told me by way of third party that it was a good idea," he added. "Don't know if that is true or not, to be honest."

    Meanwhile The Times reported that UKIP donor Arron Banks is preparing his own leadership bid and there are suggestions he could work alongside Kassam.

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    Jeremy Corbyn urges MPs to "come together now".

    After the events of the past week, I wanted to talk directly to Labour Party members.

    Jeremy Corbyn has appealed to MPs and party members to "come together now" following a tumultuous week for the Labour leader.

    In a video posted on Twitter on Monday afternoon, Corbyn said the party is "strong" when it works together, citing examples of where the government has been forced to back down such as on disability payments and forced academisation of schools.

    Corbyn is under pressure to resign after almost every member of the shadow cabinet resigned last week and he lost a motion of no confidence.

    "Come together now to oppose this Tory government," Corbyn said in the video. "Come together now to campaign for housing, for jobs, for schools, for hospitals – all the things that we the Labour party and the Labour movement absolutely believe in."

    The Labour leader sought to dismiss rumours that he is planning to resign, and repeated a previous statement that he was elected by 60% of the Labour membership just nine months ago. "I have a huge responsibility – and I'm carrying on that responsibility," he said.

    Corbyn also argued that the party has become stronger since he was elected as leader, citing parliamentary by-elections and the local elections, where Labour exceeded low expectations.

    The video comes just a day after he wrote an article in The Mirror and said he was "ready to reach out" to his enemies in the party.

    Just minutes after he posted the video, Fabian Hamilton, the party's shadow Europe minister, stepped down from his post.

    Meanwhile membership of the pro-Corbyn group Momentum has doubled to 12,000 in the last week, according to the campaigning group.

    Momentum, the grassroots campaign set up last year to boost Jeremy Corbyn's bid to become Labour leader, has since transformed into an activist group to defend his leadership.

    The group has become more active following reports last Sunday that Labour MPs were staging a "coup" to overthrow the leader and has held more than a dozen rallies across the country.

    The largest took place in Parliament Square while Labour MPs in the Commons told Corbyn that he should resign to give the party a better chance of electoral success.

    But while Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, both of whom resigned from the shadow cabinet last week in protest of Corbyn's leadership, have been preparing their own leadership bids, neither has laid down a formal challenge required to trigger a contest in the Labour party.

    This has allowed Momentum, which had 140,000 people on its email mailing list in May, to build further support for Corbyn.

    In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson for the group said that in the last seven days, membership had doubled to 12,000 and that 1,500 people were donating £11,000 a day to the group.

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    Following UKIP leader Nigel Farage's resignation as party leader earlier on Monday, senior reporter Patrick Smith has rounded up of some of his key moments.

    It includes everything from blaming traffic on the M4 that made him late for a meeting on immigration to defending a UKIP parliamentary candidate for using the words "chinky" and "poofters".

    Speaking to LBC two years ago, Farage said: "If you and your mates were going out for a Chinese, what do you say you're going for?"

    You can read the full list of memorable moments here.

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    Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom distances herself from UKIP backers.

    Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom has distanced herself from her UKIP supporters – insisting she has "no allegiances" to the anti-EU party and refusing to give Nigel Farage a job.

    Launching her leadership bid in London on Monday, the pro-Leave energy minister said her key negotiating team would only come from within government and she wasn't concerned about UKIP members rushing to endorse her.

    Leadsom, 53, is the only contender without cabinet experience but she insisted she was ready to be PM. "I am better prepared for the coming negotiations than anyone else," she said. "I know I can do the job."

    Her leadership launch came just an hour after Nigel Farage resigned as UKIP leader, at a venue just yards away. She was informed by a journalist that Farage was "now available".

    "For what?" she replied. Asked whether he would ever be part of her team, she said: "I will only have my key negotiating team from the government and that's quite clear. There will be consultations but it will be a government cabinet minister and members of the government who lead the negotiations."

    Leave.EU, an anti-EU group funded by UKIP donor Arron Banks, has publicly supported Leadsom's bid to be the next Tory leader.

    Leave.EU backs @AndreaLeadsom for Conservative leadership. Read more at: #Leadsom4Leader

    Asked whether she was concerned about the backing from UKIP, Leadsom said: "I'm not really concerned about anything. I am who I am, I stand up for myself and I hope that I'm completely honest and if anyone wants to ask me a question they can. And I have no allegiances to UKIP." Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Former chancellor Lord Lawson has backed Michael Gove for party leader.

    Former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson has publicly given his support to Michael Gove in the race to replace David Cameron as the next party leader and prime minister.

    Lord Nigel Lawson, who backed Britain's exit from the European Union in the referendum, said Gove was best placed to "navigate our departure" from the EU.

    The justice secretary was a key figure in Vote Leave, the official campaign to leave the EU, and announced his leadership bid on Wednesday morning, effectively ending Boris Johnson's campaign.

    "Michael led from the front in the referendum. He campaigned with patriotic conviction and made the case with intellectual authority. We could not have achieved victory without him," Lawson said in a statement.

    "He is also a formidably successful cabinet minister. I know from my own experience how tough it is to drive reform through Whitehall. Michael took on the huge challenge of reforming our education system with clarity and conviction – and with great success.

    "Michael also has a good understanding of both economic and foreign policy. He is the best-equipped candidate for prime minister."

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    Nigel Farage has announced his resignation as leader of UKIP following the Leave campaign's success in the EU referendum.

    Facebook: video.php

    Farage said: "I've never wanted to be a career politician. My aim in politics has been to get Britain out of the European Union. That is what we voted for in the referendum two weeks ago, and I now feel I've done my bit, and I couldn't possibly do more than we managed to get in that EU referendum."

    He added it has been a "huge chunk of his life" and it's not easy letting go of the leadership "when you feel a degree of ownership" over the party's brand.

    He said that while his mantra during the EU referendum was "I want my country back", his resignation was him saying "I want my life back."

    Farage also tendered his resignation as UKIP leader after failing to win a seat in Westminster at the 2015 general election, before performing a U-turn three days later.

    However during Monday morning's speech, Farage insisted "this time I mean it", although he did not rule out a return to frontline politics if he deemed Brexit negotiations to be unsatisfactory.

    He also warned other parties to "watch this space" over UKIP's chances at the 2020 general election, and predicted that the party would take seats in Labour's northern strongholds:

    I have decided to stand aside as Leader of UKIP. The victory for the 'Leave' side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved. I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.

    UKIP is in a good position and will continue, with my full support to attract a significant vote. Whilst we will now leave the European Union the terms of our withdrawal are unclear. If there is too much backsliding by the Government and with the Labour Party detached from many of its voters then UKIP's best days may be yet to come.

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    Politicians have called for guarantees to be given to EU nationals living in the UK after Tory leadership frontrunner Theresa May failed to offer assurances for their future in Britain after Brexit.

    The home secretary, who has a substantial poll lead over the other four candidates to become the next Conservative leader, said the decision on whether people from other EU member states will be able to stay in the UK will be subject to "negotiations", during an appearance on ITV's Peston On Sunday.

    May also couldn't guarantee that British citizens living in other EU member states would be able to stay in their adopted countries when the UK eventually leaves the EU in the years to come.

    SNP first minister Nicola Sturgeon led calls to for guarantees to be given to EU nationals living in the UK that they would be able to stay here after Britain has formally left the union.

    Responding to May's comments, which The Guardian's political editor Patrick Wintour said "creates potentially years of insecurity," Sturgeon tweeted: "The fear and uncertainty this causes people who have built their lives here is cruel."

    The fear & uncertainty this causes people who have built their lives here is cruel. Guarantees should be given now.

    MPs including Gisela Stuart (who backed Leave), Yvette Cooper and Peter Lilley also made a cross-party call to the government "to make an unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here," in an open letter published in The Telegraph on Sunday.

    "There is anxiety for the three million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries," the letter continued, also noting the disruption that could be caused to British businesses employing EU nationals.

    Signatories said that "a clear commitment to protect the status of EU migrants was made by the official Vote Leave campaign – and it must be honoured."

    A clear commitment from government to protect the immigration status of those who have moved to the UK from other EU countries could also help put paid to the surge in racially motivated hate crime since last week's referendum, the letter said.

    The National Police Chiefs Council said there has been a significant spike in reporting of hate crimes – which has included hate mail being posted through the letterboxes of Polish residents in Leicestershire, and racist graffiti being left on a Polish cultural centre in London – since the result of the vote was announced on Friday.

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    Pro-Brexit Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom has defended comments she made three years ago that the UK should stay in the EU.

    Speaking at a lecture in 2013, Leadsom said: "I'm going to nail my colours to the mast here: I don't think the UK should leave the EU."

    But asked to explain her change in stance on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, Leadsom said "it's been a journey," and pointed out that she also said in the same lecture the UK's current position in the EU was "untenable" without reform.

    A spokesperson for Leadsom said the comments, published by the Mail on Sunday, had been taken out of context.

    "Andrea's position is and has always been that without fundamental reform, the UK could not remain in the EU," the spokesperson said.

    Separately, when put on the spot by Marr on Sunday, Leadsom also said she would be "perfectly happy to publish my tax returns," although added that she would not want to set a precedent for all MPs to have to publish financial records.

    Fellow Conservative leadership frontrunners Theresa May and Michael Gove also said on Sunday that they would be willing to publish their tax returns.

    Here @andrealeadsom 2013 Hansard lecture "nailing colours to mast" on EU exit econ "disaster..decade of uncertainty"

    Gove too appeared on Marr, where he was dubbed a "political serial killer" following his surprise usurping of pro-Leave campaign-mate Boris Johnson by announcing his Tory leadership bid on Thursday.

    "There are people who will say all sorts of things," Gove said. "Boris could have chosen to go on if he wished to. The fact that he didn't is telling."

    Gove, who has admitted that he had always believed he had neither the "glamour" nor "charisma" to lead the governing party added: "There are all sorts of people who will say disobliging things about me. I don't mind that. I would rather people said this is a man that sticks to his principles, not a man who's worried about popularity".

    Later on Sunday, Labour's shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, one of the few members of the opposition's front bench not to step down in the last week, announced his support for Gove in the Conservative leadership contest.

    I have shadowed both Gove & May. No question in my mind who's the better politician & person. Hope the Tories go for Gove.

    Burnham tweeted that having worked closely with both Gove and May that he had no question over "who's the better politician and person".

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    Jeremy Corbyn has said he is "ready to reach out" to his enemies in the Labour party, who have been resigning en masse since last Sunday.

    Writing in the Sunday Mirror, the beleaguered Labour leader expressed a keenness to "work with the whole party to provide the alternative the country needs," but urged those who have challenged his leadership to respect the views of the wider Labour membership, who voted him in with a huge mandate nine months ago.

    "Our priority must be to mobilise this incredible force to oppose the Tories, and ensure people in Britain have a real political alternative," Corbyn writes, noting that government's failure to formulate an EU exit plan will punish working people with "more spending cuts and tax rises".

    "What's needed now is leadership and a clear plan," Corbyn continues.

    Corbyn said those still challenging his leadership were "free to do so in a democratic contest, in which I will be a candidate," an assertion that is disputed.

    On Saturday, Angela Eagle, one of the candidates poised to challenge Corbyn in a leadership election, said he should do "the right thing for the party and the country," and step down.

    "I said before he should resign, he's lost the confidence of the party, he's losing confidence in the party. And let's face it the country's in crisis, and we need strong opposition," Eagle told reporters outside her house.

    But the rift inside Labour's parliamentary party showed no signs of healing, despite the BBC reporting that MPs were trying to propose a settlement deal to Corbyn, where he would be eased out of leadership, but would be offered a front bench position that would allow him to retain the party's anti-austerity policy platform.

    Senior Labour sources close to Corbyn have said that they had blocked negotiation meetings between the leader and his deputy Tom Watson, as they believed that Watson would bully Corbyn into resigning, according to The Guardian.

    "We are not letting that happen. He's a 70-year-old [sic] man. We have a duty of care … This is not a one-off. There is a culture of bullying. Maybe it's a Blairite/Brownite thing," the source reportedly said.

    But others in the party denied claims Watson was unable to secure a meeting with the Labour leader. "It's a ridiculous story. Those comments are an anonymous source and obviously not from within the team," a source close to Corbyn reportedly told The Mirror.

    They said that Watson had been seen beside Corbyn on numerous occasions last week, including in parliament, and that one-on-one meetings were not commonplace among senior Labour MPs anyway. "People usually bring their own aide. But if people want a one-on-one I'm sure they would get one," the source added.

    Meanwhile, Corbyn allies accused Rob Marris, who resigned as shadow finance minister last week, of sabotaging Labour by deleting files that would allow the party to challenge the Tory finance bill.

    "Unfortunately, it looks like someone from Rob Marris's office has deleted the vast majority of the finance bill records and notes on each clause from the shared drive," a leaked email seen by The Guardian revealed.

    In a statement, Marris did not appear to wholly deny the accusation. "I have not removed Labour party material from a shared computer drive," the MP tweeted.

    "I have not removed Labour Party material from a shared computer drive.

    "The only material removed belonged to me, not to the Labour party," Marris continued. "It was created to help me as a shadow treasury minister. I am no longer a shadow minister.

    "I paid for this material using my parliamentary staff allowance to fulfil my role as a shadow minister.

    "The Labour party did not pay a penny for it."

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    Thousands attend "March for Europe" in London

    Remain supporters are marching through London to protest the referendum result.

    Thousands of people are thought to be attending the March for Europe rally, which will culminate with speeches in Parliament Square.

    Police believe 30,000 people are marching, but organisers estimate around 50,000.

    Protesters chant "no more lies, no more hate, we are the 48" as #marchforeurope reaches Westminster.

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    Eagle: Onus is on Corbyn to "do the right thing for the country".

    Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle was widely expected to formally challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership on Friday.

    However, the week ended and no challenge came, with BBC News reporting the shadow cabinet Corbyn appointed to replace those who quit are now drawing up a plan for the leader to "retire with dignity".

    There is also still a chance that former work and pensions secretary Owen Smith will launch a leadership bid.

    Speaking outside her home in London on Saturday, Eagle said the ball was firmly in Corbyn's court.

    "I think it's all about Jeremy considering his position at this moment, and I don't think speculation about anything else is useful," she told Sky News.

    "Let's just concentrate on Jeremy doing the right thing for the party and the country. I said before he should resign, he's lost the confidence of the party, he's losing confidence in the party. And let's face it the country's in crisis, and we need strong opposition."

    Corbyn meanwhile seemed relaxed while attending a rally in his Islington constituency.

    Jeremy Corbyn's Snapchat is back back back. He doesn't post in moments of crisis so looking bad for Labour rebels.

    In addition, several #KeepCorbyn rallies are taking place today, in Leeds, Liverpool and Hull.

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    Iain Duncan Smith has thrown his support behind pro-Brexit Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative leadership campaign.

    Duncan Smith said he had "huge confidence" in his fellow Leave campaigner's "ability to achieve objectives even against considerable odds," according to the BBC.

    The former work and pension secretary praised Leadsom's "strong family background, business experience, compassion, commitment to social justice and dedication will make her a great prime minister for the UK".

    The endorsement from Duncan Smith makes him one of 21 MPs to back the energy minister for Tory leader, and therefore prime minister.

    Leading the contest is home secretary Theresa May, who currently has the backing of 96 Tory MPs, while work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb has 22, Liam Fox has 10, and justice secretary Michael Gove has 18, according to a count by the BBC as of 6pm last night.

    In light of May's strong lead, business minister Anna Soubry has suggested it would simplify the process of finding a new Conservative leader if other candidates were simply to stand down, rather than have the party's membership vote on the two MPs with the greatest support.

    "It would be best if the candidates among themselves could just back one person and then we can get on with it. This uncertainty — for this to drag on till September — is not great for our country," Soubry told LBC on Friday night.

    But in an interview with The Telegraph on Saturday, Leadsom questioned whether May, who backed David Cameron's Remain campaign, was the correct person to lead a country who had voted in favour of Brexit.

    "I think it's very difficult for somebody who doesn't agree with that, who is reluctantly following the wishes of the people. I think it's quite hard for them to really see the opportunities," Leadsom said.

    "I genuinely believe that if we want to make a go of it then we need somebody who believes in it." UK news reporter Laura Silver reports.

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    Labour Councillors Are Having An Almighty Row About An Anti-Corbyn Letter

    Labour councillors are engulfed in a major row over an open letter calling on Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

    Organisers claim that over 600 Labour councillors – around one in 10 of Britain's total – have now signed the statement demanding fresh leadership.

    But a number of apparent signatories have complained that their names should not be on the list and that they actually do back Corbyn.

    The Labour leader is under mounting pressure to resign after MPs resigned en masse from his shadow cabinet and he lost a motion of no confidence.

    In his defence, a pro-Corbyn letter, published on LabourList, said: "It would be utterly self-defeating for the people we represent if now, less than a year after Jeremy was elected on the single biggest mandate of any previous leader, he was to be forced from office."

    That led to the release of an anti-Corbyn letter on Thursday – signed at that point by over 500 councillors – calling on him to resign and "make way for new leadership".

    Ed Davie, who created the letter calling for Corbyn to resign, told BuzzFeed News he had sent out a blanket email to all Labour councillors outlining the public statement calling for Corbyn's resignation, with a button below for them to click if they wanted to sign it.

    Davie blamed an "organised campaign" by Momentum, the grassroots group of Corbyn supporters, to try and "discredit the letter because it doesn't fit in with their agenda".

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Boris Johnson on state of the country: "Seems absolutely fine to me."

    Boris Johnson is doorstepped and questioned about Michael Gove and the future of Britain

    The former frontrunner for the PM's role was questioned as he left his London home.

    Johnson, whose leadership bid was derailed by justice secretary Michael Gove's decision to also stand yesterday, said: "I cannot, unfortunately, get on with doing what I wanted to do, so it will be up to someone else now."

    The Conservative MP also refused to be drawn by a heckler who ran alongside him shouting that he had abandoned the UK and left the country in a state.

    "Nonsense," Johnson replied. "Seems absolutely fine to me."

    It is his first appearance since the dramatic moment shortly before midday yesterday when he announced that he would not stand for the Conservative leadership. Once seen as the pre-emptive frontrunner to replace David Cameron, he was unexpectedly caught out by Gove's last-minute announcement that he would be standing. Previously, Gove had repeatedly made assurances that he would not now, nor ever, seek the leadership of the Conservatives.

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    Every contender for the Conservative leadership has now formally declared – here is a summary of where each stands.

    The frontrunners are justice secretary Michael Gove and home secretary Theresa May.

    They were on opposing sides during the referendum campaigns. May was a Remain supporter but quiet about it and Gove a leading figure on the official Leave side. Both have subsequently said the results of the referendum must be respected.

    Gove had not been expected to stand in the leadership contest, and until yesterday morning was widely anticipated to throw his weight behind the nominative face of the Leave campaign, former London mayor Boris Johnson. Following Gove's dramatic last minute decision to run, there has been speculation that his standing among his fellow MPs has fallen. As of Friday morning, 18 MPs have publicly declared their support, according to The Spectator. Chief among them is education secretary Nicky Morgan.

    May, meanwhile, has already gathered 77 MPs to her camp, again according to The Spectator. Touted as the candidate best seen as a safe pair of hands, the home secretary gave an assured announcement speech on Thursday in which she said she would build on David Cameron's "one nation Conservative party". Perhaps crucially, May has already received the endorsement of the Daily Mail, a newspaper Gove's wife, the Mail columnist Sarah Vine, appeared to indicate would back Gove ahead of Boris.

    The other three candidates are work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, who's running alongside business secretary Sajid Javid; energy secretary Andrea Leadsom; and former defence minister Liam Fox.

    Crabb has reportedly managed to gather 23 MPs to his camp, and his pitch has been discussed as the "blue collar" bid on account of his emphasis on working values. Leadsom, who is perhaps best known for her role on finance and Treasury select committee hearings, has 15 backing her. And Fox, who was forced to resign in disgrace in 2011 and holds the record for the largest parliamentary expenses, has the support of nine MPs.

    Meanwhile, over in the Labour party, leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to refuse to resign and shadow chancellor John McDonnell again expressed his support for him this morning.

    MPs Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are being discussed as potential challengers to Corbyn's leadership – but it remains unclear when, or if, either will announce.

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    Michael Gove: "I did almost everything I could not to be a candidate."

    Michael Gove has formally pitched for the leadership of the Conservative party following his spectacular backstabbing of former ally Boris Johnson yesterday.

    "I am running in this leadership contest for one reason," he said: in order to allow the UK "to embrace the opportunity for change with courage and conviction".

    The justice secretary, who campaigned for Leave, was introduced by ally Nick Boles on Friday morning. In an unfortunate move, his team's timing put broadcasters in the position of having to cut away from the Somme memorial services in France to his speech in London.

    Addressing the reasons for his dramatic leadership bid – which followed months and months of denial that he was interested in the top job – Gove said: "I did not want it.

    "I did almost everything I could not be the candidate for the leadership of this party.

    "I was so very reluctant because I know my limitations. Whatever charisma is I don't have it, whatever glamour may be, I don't think anyone could ever associate me with it."

    Gove's pitch essentially: I've always wanted us to leave the EU, vote for me and (unlike others) I won't hesitate to take us out of the EU.

    "The best person to lead Britain out," says Gove, "is someone who argued to get Britain out of the European Union."

    On policy, Gove addressed a number of key campaign points – including immigration and funding for the NHS.

    He said he would deliver on the pledge to "bring down" immigration numbers. "I will end free movement, introduce an Australian-style points-based system for immigration," he said.

    Addressing the claims by the Leave campaign during the referendum, notably that of £350 million extra funding for the NHS every week, Gove promised to "take all the steps necessary to give the NHS at least another £100 million per week by 2020".

    The controversial figure of £350m has already been partially retracted by other Leave campaigners from both official and unofficial campaigns. But when asked about the figure in questions following his speech, Gove said he would stand by it and that it was a gross figure.

    "I don't take back anything I said in that campaign," he told the BBC's Nick Wyatt.

    On Article 50, Gove said he had no expectation of it being triggered by the end of the year. He did not suggest a timetable for the decision at all.

    There depth and length of his speech raised a few questions for some reporters covering the event.

    Impressed Michael Gove can put together a 4,913 word policy-packed speech when he apparently wasn't going to stand until Wednesday night.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Labour MP Lisa Nandy has reiterated that she has no intention to run for her party's leadership.

    Lisa Nandy, a Labour MP on the "soft left" of the party, has reasserted that she will not stand in a leadership campaign after it emerged that someone has registered the URL "".

    The domain was bought yesterday evening, according to online records, prompting suggestions that Nandy could be preparing a leadership challenge.

    But in a tweet on Friday she rejected that she plans to mount a challenge against Jeremy Corbyn and said "someone's playing silly buggers".

    Someone's playing sillybuggers.If you registrd, not going to happen & pls stop messing about.These are serious times

    It's unclear who registered the domain as the owner has chosen to keep their information private.

    Nandy, who resigned from the shadow cabinet four days ago, has been touted as a figure who could unify the party's MPs in a leadership contest against Corbyn but has previously ruled herself out.

    The embattled Corbyn has continued to insist that he will not stand down as leader and two Labour MPs, Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, are now preparing their own candidacies.

    It was believed that Eagle, who resigned as business secretary on Monday, would put forward a formal leadership challenge to Corbyn yesterday but she delayed the decision to give the Labour leader the chance to step down himself.

    Political correspondent Siraj Datoo reports.

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    John McDonnell To EU Migrants: We Won’t Send You Back Home After Brexit

    John McDonnell, speaking in London's Southbank, directly addressed reports from the home secretary – and Tory leadership frontrunner – Theresa May that the status of EU citizens in the UK would depend on negotiations with the EU.

    "We're not that kind of people," McDonnell told reporters. In the speech, broadly focussed on the economy post-Brexit, the shadow chancellor indicated that the Labour party's red lines would be access to the single market and protecting the rights of EU nationals in the UK.

    He went on to say that workers' right could not be "watered down" following Brexit.

    McDonnell also criticised the spate of racists attacks witnessed across Britain following the momentous decision to leave the EU.

    "It's been a quiet week in politics," John McDonnell jokes as he kicks off speech on impact of Brexit

    Shadow chancellor John McDonnell sought to play down the turmoil engulfing Labour at a press conference in London.

    He appealed to disaffected MPs, many of whom have resigned en masse from Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet, to "calm down" and let the opposition "do our job".

    McDonnell said he expected any leadership challenge to happen "in the next few days" and that Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot paper and he would be his campaign manager.

    "I think he will win but you can never predict these things, it's a democratic election," he added.

    Around 60,000 people have joined Labour in the last week, which McDonnell said proved that Corbyn was still boosting party membership. But critics claim that many of the new members have joined to vote against him in a new contest.

    The shadow chancellor said the spate of resignations from Labour's front bench was "really disappointing" – and praised those who had stepped up to take their place as the "heroes and heroines of our movement".

    And he denied ever wanting to be Labour leader. "The stories that went round a few weeks ago, that I was building a plot to oust Jeremy and replace him – this week the story is I'm forcing him to stay.

    "They've got to get this right somewhere along the line. So let me make it absolutely clear: I will never stand for leader of the Labour party."

    McDonnell says he found the mass shadow front bench resignations "really disappointing". He is sad rather than angry. Applause from crowd.

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Liam Fox has called for "Brexit for grownups" and criticised the political manoeuvring of the past days.

    The former defence secretary, who was forced to resign in 2011, appeared on Radio 4's Today programme to discuss his leadership bid.

    Fox was one of the first Conservatives to pitch for the leadership position, and will face off against frontrunner Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, and secretary of work and pensions Stephen Crabb. Yesterday, Westminster was thrown by the unexpected withdrawal of former London mayor Boris Johnson from the race, shortly after his erstwhile supporter and fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove announced his bid.

    Fox described the current machinations as the the politics of the "Oxford Union" and said the scheming was simply a "distraction" from the bigger issue of Brexit.

    He told the BBC:

    We are now 10 weeks away from having a new prime minister, we're in the process of electing a prime minister who will actually take us out of the European Union, and yet we seem to be permanently distracted by what can only be described as the politics of the Oxford Union in recent days.

    I think it was a distraction, we need Brexit for grownups and we need to be talking about the big issues.

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    Gove on leadership bid coup: "There were a number of people who said to me: 'Michael, it should be you.'"

    Gove has said he "reluctantly" came to the conclusion that he was the person to lead the Conservatives only late last night, following a day of dramatic political upheaval.

    The justice secretary, who was a prominent Leave campaigner and had said he would fully support Boris Johnson's leadership bid, announced this morning he intended to seek the leadership of the Tory party. His announcement effectively derailed Johnson's, and the former London mayor unexpectedly ruled himself out for the role.

    But, Gove told the BBC in his first interview since the announcement, he had come to the conclusion that Johnson was incapable of uniting the country and the party to lead them through Brexit.

    "There were a number of people who had said to me in the course of the week, 'Michael, it should be you,'" he said.

    Michael Gove: "there were a number of people who had said to me: 'Michael, it should be you'" #ToryLeadership

    "I felt we needed someone to lead this country who believed heart and soul in leaving the European Union," he said.

    "I also believed we needed someone who would be able to build a team, lead and unite. I hoped that person would be Boris Johnson.

    "I came in the last few days reluctantly and firmly to the conclusion that while Boris has great attributes he was not capable of uniting that team and leading the party and the country in the way that I would have hoped."

    Gove suggests to BBC he didn't trust the "amazing and impressive" Boris to make good on pledge to take Britain out of the EU.

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    Corbyn has sent out a statement to Labour party members asking them for their continued support.

    It follows the latest resignations from his front bench and comes amid continued calls for his resignation. The full text of the letter reads:

    United we stand, divided we fall is one of the oldest and truest slogans of the Labour movement.

    After last week's referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is split.

    The Government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.

    Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the Government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the Government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.

    To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the Government over its attacks on living standards. Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday's referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a Remain vote.

    I was elected leader of our party, for a new kind of politics, by 60% of Labour members and supporters. The need for that different approach now is greater than ever.

    Our people need Labour Party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite. As leader it is my continued commitment to dedicate our party's activity to that goal.

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    The Labour resignations have continued. Latest: Rob Marris, shadow minister to the Treasury.

    And it goes on, Rob Marris quits as shadow Treasury minister.

    He reportedly resigned during the finance bill committee hearing. Appointed to the post by Corbyn in September 2015, Marris was one of the few remaining Labour MPs on the original shadow front bench who had not yet resigned. More than 50 have tendered their resignation – some a mere few hours after they were appointed – in a wave of dissatisfaction with Corbyn's leadership.

    The Labour leader has continued to refuse to resign, despite a motion carried by more than 80% of his MPs calling on him to do so.

    However, there are some politicians who remain loyal to Corbyn.

    Three Labour members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) have written a letter backing "the democratically elected leader".

    Neil Findlay, MSP Lothian; Richard Leonard, MSP Central Scotland; and Alex Rowley, MSP Mid Scotland and Fife and deputy leader of the Scottish party; have urged other members to respect the wishes of the party members and support Corbyn.

    "Labour party members are not passive onlookers to be used and exploited at election time, only to be ignored thereafter – they are the lifeblood of our party, we are nothing without them," they write.

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    Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has launched into a searing attack on Boris Johnson over his failure to run in the Tory leadership race.

    Heseltine told BBC Radio 5 Live that Johnson has "ripped the party apart" and "created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times". He went on to liken the former mayor of London to a general who goes into battle but "the moment he sees the battleground he abandons it".

    I think there will be a profound sense of dismay and frankly contempt. He's ripped the party apart. He's created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times. He's knocked billions off the nation's savings. He's like a general that led his army to the sound of guns and at the sight of the battlefield, abandoned the field.

    I have never seen so contemptible and irresponsible a situation. He must live with the shame of what he has done.

    Boris Johnson is the one who won the referendum – without him it wouldn't have happened, without him there wouldn't be this uncertainty and he's abandoned the field.

    Breaking news editor Francis Whittaker and senior political correspondent Emily Ashton report.

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    Jeremy Corbyn Reported To Compliance Unit After Appearing To Compare Actions Of Israel To ISIS

    The leader of the Labour party has been reported to the party's compliance unit after he appeared to compare the actions of the Israeli government with that of the terrorist organisation ISIS.

    Jeremy Corbyn was speaking at the launch of the party's report into anti-Semitism and racism on Thursday, carried out by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the human rights group Liberty.

    The report said that "epithets such as 'Paki', 'Zio' and others should have no place in Labour party discourse".

    At the event, Corbyn said that there was no room for anti-Semitism in the party.

    "Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the [Binyamin] Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of self-styled Islamic states or organisations," he added.

    The Labour leader was immediately criticised and one Labour supporter reported Corbyn to the party's compliance unit, which implements the party's rules, for his remarks.

    "Until recently I wanted him gone just because I thought he was incompetent – now I think he's also dangerous, and not just to the future of the Labour Party," party supporter Richard Lowe told BuzzFeed News. "If he stands again, it'll be effectively a vote between Corbyn or Labour.

    Responding to the news that the party leader had been reported, a Labour source told BuzzFeed News: "I don't know what would happen next. It's completely unprecedented."

    When asked if he was drawing a direct comparison between the Israeli government and ISIS, Corbyn said: “Of course I’m not.”

    In the hours since the press conference, a Jewish Labour MP who left in tears after a separate incident has since released a powerful statement condemning the Labour leader and his handling of the situation.

    MP Ruth Smeeth walked out of the launch event after she was accused by an activist with grassroots organisation Momentum of "working hand-in-hand" with a journalist.

    Following the press conference, Smeeth said in a statement she walked out because the activist used "traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'."

    She added that although she hasn't criticised Corbyn in the past, his failure to respond effectively meant that she can no longer support him.

    "People like this have no place in our party or our movement and must be opposed. Until today I had made no public comment about Jeremy's ability to lead our party, but the fact that he failed to intervene is final proof for me that he is unfit to lead, and that a Labour Party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews. I have written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party and the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party to formally complain about this morning's events." "No-one from the Leader's office has contacted me since the event, which is itself a catastrophic failure of leadership. I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and antisemitism in our party and in the country."

    Political correspondent Siraj Datoo reports.

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    Andrea Leadsom has said that the next PM must be someone who can “deliver” on the promise of the referendum result.

    "I genuinely believe the next leader needs to be someone who sees the opportunity of leaving the EU and who is completely determined to deliver on what the people have told us to do," she told Sky News.

    The energy minister, who announced her candidacy amid a morning of intense political upheaval in the Conservative party, has been the MP for South Northamptonshire since May 2010 and has served on both the public accounts and Treasury select committees in Westminster.

    She continued: "We have to now deliver all of the huge advantages of trading with the 92% of people in the world who aren't in the EU."

    She added: "The next leader has to be someone who will deliver on the promise of the referendum because they can see the huge advantages and they believe in them."

    On the political turmoil from this morning, she described herself as "absolutely bowled over".

    "I so enjoyed working with Boris and Michael on the campaign," she said. "I'm really disappointed."

    She went on to say: "I don't talk about betrayal. Michael is a just brilliant person, and no one can be in any doubt that he was doing the right thing for the country."

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    Following Johnson's decision not to stand, the candidates for the Tory leadership are: Theresa May, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb, Andrea Leadsom, and Liam Fox.

    Home secretary May announced this morning, shortly after justice secretary Gove made the shock announcement he was also running.

    The work and pensions secretary made his bid for the leadership yesterday, promising to run on a joint ticket with the business, innovation and skills secretary Sajid Javid. Late yesterday, former minister Fox also threw his hat into the ring.

    The Conservative leadership deadline to submit candidacy papers has now closed.

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    In a shock move, Boris Johnson has announced he will not be standing for the Conservative leadership.

    Boris Johnson has made a dramatic exit from the Tory leadership race just two hours after his fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove announced his own surprise bid.

    The former London mayor was long tipped as the successor to David Cameron and had gathered journalists at a press conference on Thursday, supposedly to launch his campaign.

    But 10 minutes into a rambling speech about the leader required to steer Britain post Brexit, Johnson dropped his bombshell: "Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me."

    There was an audible gasp of surprise from both reporters and his MP supporters at the event in St Ermin's Hotel, central London. Journalists shouted "Who are you backing?", but Johnson walked straight out after his speech without taking questions.

    .@BorisJohnson says the next Conservative party leader "cannot be me"

    This is the end of Johnson's speech, where he announces he will not be running.

    That is the agenda for the next prime minister of this country.

    Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.

    My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda that I believe in, to stick up for the forgotten people of this country.

    And, if we do so, if we invest in our children and improve their life chances, if we continue to fuel the engines of social mobility, if we build on the great reforming legacy of David Cameron, if we invest in our infrastructure and we follow a sensible, one nation Conservative approach that is simultaneously tax-cutting and pro-enterprise, then I believe that this country can win and be better and more wonderful and, yes, greater than ever before.

    Johnson's withdrawal came just a couple of hours after Gove, who had been assumed to be Johnson's "dream team" running mate, sent shockwaves around Westminster by releasing a statement announcing his leadership bid – saying frankly that he did not have confidence in Johnson.

    It means there are five Tory leadership candidates: justice secretary Gove, home secretary Theresa May, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, energy minister Andrea Leadsom and ex-defence secretary Liam Fox.

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Alexander has just accused John McDonnell of undermining her role as shadow health secretary by conducting secret meetings without her.

    Alexander, who resigned as shadow health secretary on Sunday following the sacking of shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, along with a host of other Labour MPs, made the accusation on Thursday.

    Exposing further discontent in the Labour party, she said McDonnell had invited NHS campaigners to a meeting in the Commons without inviting her – a highly unusual move considering Alexander was in charge of Labour health policy.

    The exchange followed an article by Andy Cowper on the policy analysis site Health Policy Insight within which he quoted sources saying she had been excluded from "semi-secret" meetings.

    Alexander backed up Cowper's story with a series of tweets on Thursday. And said it wasn't the first time it had happened.

    News reporter Sara Spary reports.

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    Nicky Morgan has confirmed she will not be running for the Conservative leadership.

    Like health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Morgan had been among those considering a leadership bid. Both have now confirmed they will not stand.

    Instead, the education secretary has said she will back Michael Gove, who explosively announced his leadership bid first thing on Thursday morning.

    This is the full text of Morgan's decision, published on her website on Thursday morning:

    Over the past week it has become clear just how divided our nation is - between young and old, north and south and those with different education and work backgrounds.

    So it is clear to me that the next leader of the Conservative Party must be someone who can unite the country, who can heal the wounds that the referendum exposed but also, and I think this is what we must not lose sight of, present a confident, positive and optimistic platform for our country's future in which this Party appeals to the centre ground of British politics.

    It is equally important that we now secure the right deal for Britain – and the next leader must have the skill and credibility to put together the right team to renegotiate our exit from and future relationship with Europe and explain the final terms to the British people.

    Having spent the past week talking to colleagues in Parliament, party members and constituents I have concluded unequivocally that the right person to do that is Michael Gove and I am delighted to be endorsing his candidacy today."

    Jeremy Hunt has said he will back home secretary Theresa May's bid for the PM's role. May also announced this morning.

    Gove's nomination papers appeared have appeared online:

    Here are Michael Gove's nomination papers. Proposed by Nicky Morgan, seconded by Dom Raab

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    Theresa May: "I think I'm the best person to be prime minister."

    Commons leader Chris Grayling introduced May, saying she would build on Cameron's legacy of a "one nation Conservative party".

    May promptly made clear that she would not introduce an emergency Budget in the wake of Brexit, would not invoke Article 50 before the end of the year, and would not call a general election before 2020.

    "Following last week's referendum, our country needs strong leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty and to negotiate the best possible terms as we leave the EU." May told a packed room at the Royal United Services Institute on Whitehall. In attendance were Tory MPs including Sir Alan Duncan, international development secretary Justine Greening, David Cameron's parliamentary aide Gavin Williamson, and former cabinet minister Maria Miller.

    "We need leadership that can unite our party and our country," she said, adding: "We need a country that works not just for the privileged few but for every one of us."

    And she made several swipes at her rival Boris Johnson, first by warning that politics was not a game. "If you are from an ordinary working-class family, life is just much harder than many people in politics realise.

    "Frankly, not everybody in Westminster understands what it's like to live like this and some need to be told that it isn't a game. It's a serious business that has real consequences for people's lives.

    "I know some politicians seek high office because they are driven by ideological fervour. I know others seek it for reasons of ambition or glory.

    "My reasons are much simpler. I grew up the daughter of a local vicar and the granddaughter of a regimental sergeant major. Public service has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.

    "I know I'm not a showy politician, I don't tour the TV studios, I don't gossip about people over lunch, I don't go drinking in parliament's bars. I don't often wear my heart on my sleeve. I just get on with the job in front of me."

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

    May was greeted with an incredibly warm reception, with two ovations throughout her speech.

    Tory MPs leap to their feet with huge applause when May walks into the room - it's packed, real buzz

    She also landed a swipe at Boris Johnson that went down very well with her audience.

    Theresa May: "last time @BorisJohnson did a deal with the Germans he came back with three nearly new water cannon"

    Having announced her leadership in both a Times column and a Facebook statement on Thursday morning, May is already being touted as the compromise candidate as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove look set to battle it out.

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    Some 539 Labour councillors have signed a letter asking Jeremy Corbyn to stand down from the leadership.

    The open letter was published on the LabourList website. The councillors claim to be drawn from "a number of traditions within our movement," including people who voted for Corbyn in the 2015 leadership campaign.

    As Labour councillors we support the recent call from colleagues for new leadership at the top of our party. Jeremy Corbyn is an honourable man with a record of public service stretching back more than four decades, not least in local government. We are drawn from a number of traditions within our movement, including those who voted for Jeremy last year. It has now become clear, however, that he is unable to command the confidence of the whole party nor of many traditional Labour supporters we speak with on the doorstep. Our country is facing a crisis – and the neighbourhoods we represent are on the front line. We urge Jeremy Corbyn to make way for the new leadership that our communities so desperately need.

    A similar letter was issued by 240 councillors in support of Corbyn yesterday, although some councillors appeared to have signed that letter twice.

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    Michael Gove Joins Tory Leadership Contest Saying Boris Johnson “Cannot Provide Leadership” The Country Needs

    Justice secretary and chief Leave campaigner Michael Gove has announced he will "reluctantly" run for the leadership of the Conservative party, saying Boris Johnson "cannot provide the leadership" the country needs.

    Gove was widely expected to back former London mayor and his announcement comes as a shock after he repeatedly denied that he wants to be prime minister.

    "I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership. In particular, I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future," said Gove in a statement.

    "But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."

    There are suggestions Gove's candidacy will reduce support for Johnson and provide fuel for home secretary Theresa May's leadership bid.

    Within minutes of Gove’s announcement, culture secretary Ed Vaizey tweeted that he will back the justice secretary.

    Agonising on who to back for leadership. Gove has made my mind up. #GoGove #TeamGove

    Political correspondent Siraj Datoo reports.

    Almost simultaneously, Andrea Leadsom also announced her candidacy for the Conservative leadership.

    Delighted to say I'm running for the @Conservatives Leadership. Let's make the most of the Brexit opportunities! #FreshStart

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    Jeremy Corbyn insists he won't quit.

    Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he has no intention of quitting as Labour leader and told a crowd of his supporters that he would be "carrying on" in control of the party, as his team prepare for a leadership challenge.

    He told a crowd outside SOAS university in central London that he would fight on despite losing the support of almost the entire Labour parliamentary party, former Labour leaders, the current leader of Scottish Labour, and some of his economic advisers.

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    Labour MP Jon Ashworth is remaining in the shadow cabinet in order to retain his position on the party's national executive committee ahead of the expected leadership contest, a senior Labour source has told BuzzFeed News.

    Ashworth, shadow minister without portfolio, is one of only three Labour MPs in the shadow cabinet who are not obvious Corbyn loyalists. Questions had been raised about why he was remaining when most of his natural allies have quit.

    One former shadow cabinet minister said it was partly because Ashworth could then report back on what happened in the meetings, but more crucially so he could maintain one of the three positions on Labour's ruling NEC currently reserved for shadow cabinet ministers. The organisation is expected to be crucial in controlling the shape of the party and its internal battles in the coming months.

    The other two NEC slots are held by Angela Eagle, who resigned on Monday so is expected to lose her place as a result of quitting the shadow cabinet, and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

    Aside from Ashworth, the other two non-Corbynites in the shadow cabinet are chief whip Rosie Winterton, who is unlikely to quit, and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who is fighting to get the Labour nomination for mayor of Manchester.

    Ashworth did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Tom Watson has confirmed he will not run for the Labour leadership, but has said he's attempting to negotiate Corbyn's departure – with little success.

    Watson confirmed he will not stand for the leadership and said the Labour party was heading towards a leadership battle.

    In an interview with the BBC, Watson apologised to the country for "the mess they are seeing in Westminster right now".

    He said he had spent the past week attempting to negotiate a path through the mess, but admitted he had been unable to change his leader's mind. "I went to see Jeremy today to see if we could find a way of getting a negotiated settlement, but he was unwilling to move from the position we're in. So we're still in an impasse I'm afraid."

    "I just think he feels very strongly he has that mandate from the members," Watson said of Corbyn's refusal to resign. "He's obviously been told to stay by his close ally John McDonnell and they're a team and they've decided that they're going to tough this out, so it looks like the Labour party is heading for some form of contested election."

    He declined to comment whether Angela Eagle would run for the leadership. Instead, he urged Labour party members to consider a candidate who could be seen as a prime minister.

    "It's a very different question, and it's a very serious and reasonable thing that our members have to do because there are millions of people out there who need a Labour government," he said.

    Watson says he's been trying to reach a 'negotiated settlement' today to persuade COrbyn to go

    Watson tells me he believes it's John McDonnell who is preventing Corbyn from quitting

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    In Conservative news, Liam Fox has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the Tory leadership.

    Former defence secretary Liam Fox confirmed to LBC Radio that he would stand for the Tory leadership. He said he would formally announce his bid on Thursday morning, before nominations close at noon.

    Fox, a pro-Leave MP who has been on the back benches since 2011 following a lobbying scandal, laughed off claims that he had spoken to home secretary Theresa May about a possible joint bid. "I've also had a cup of tea with Stephen Crabb this afternoon so it's only a matter of time before I throw my hat in with him," he joked.

    Highlighting his long experience in parliament, Fox said he wanted to make sure Britain was a "meritocracy" where everyone could do well no matter their background. "I grew up in a council house and went to a comprehensive school," he said. "We do need to understand the concept of opportunity."

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Corbyn's office have circulated a message from allegedly 240 local councillors in support of the Labour leader.