back to top

Angela Eagle Launched Her Labour Leadership Bid But All The Journalists Had Left

The Labour MP had the misfortune to launch her formal challenge to Jeremy Corbyn at the same time Andrea Leadsom quit the Tory leadership race.

Posted on

Angela Eagle finally launched her Labour leadership challenge at midday on Monday. It was a well-planned professional event with most of the UK's political journalists in attendance.

Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Eagle was due to take to the stage at midday and explain why she wanted to challenge Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour leader. There were special banners and it was set to be the main politics story of Monday, dominating the news.

Unfortunately, just 20 minutes before her speech was due to begin, word reached the journalists in the room that Andrea Leadsom was about to make a statement and drop out of the Tory leadership race – leaving Theresa May as the only remaining contender to be the new prime minister.

The exodus of journalists from Angela Eagle's Labour leadership launch to watch Andrea Leadsom's statement is in full swing. :(

Journalists fleeing the Angela Eagle launch event to get to Leadsom statement - a brutal metaphor for how far they've got to go

In an attempt to ensure the event got at least some coverage, Eagle's aides decided to start a few minutes early.

But they were already too late: Many of the journalists in the room had already left to rush to the Leadsom statement, resulting in this excruciating moment.

Eagle called on the leading UK political broadcasters to ask her a question, only to find that neither the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg nor ITV's Robert Peston remained in the room. Both had left to cover the story of the next prime minister.

"Robert Peston, where are you?" she asked to no response.

In a brutal assessment of the event's news value, Sky News didn't even cover the event at all and instead showed live footage of the house where Leadsom was due to give a statement.

Sky News

The BBC's news channel broadcast the start of the Eagle event live for six minutes, before cutting away to the Leadsom statement.

Still, within two hours Eagle had received the backing of 51 Labour MPs and a Labour leadership election was officially called.

Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Her pitch to a room filled with supportive Labour MPs was that Jeremy Corbyn has no chance of winning a general election and she is the candidate to unite the party.

Eagle told the audience: "I'm not a Blairite. I'm not a Brownite. I'm not a Corbynista. I am my own woman – a strong Labour woman.

"I will unite, I will not divide. I can bring our party together again."

But she said people who want her to become leader would have to sign up as Labour members, as Corbyn currently enjoys substantial support among the existing activist base.

"I will not stand back and allow Britain to
become a one party Tory state. We owe
too much to the millions in our country
who look to us to help them make a better

When Eagle was asked why she was confident in beating Theresa May in a general election, she replied: "Because she's a Tory."

Corbyn now faces a legal dispute over whether he is eligible to get on the ballot, since it is unlikely he can receive the support of 51 MP and MEPs due to the catastrophic collapse in support for his leadership within the parliamentary Labour party.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.