Jess Phillips backs Ian Murray for Labour deputy leader

Phillips dropped out of the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn but is backing the Edinburgh South MP for deputy.

Jess Phillips backs Ian Murray for Labour deputy leader Chris McAndrew / STV

Former Labour leadership contender Jess Phillips has endorsed Ian Murray in the party’s deputy leadership race.

Phillips, who on Tuesday dropped out the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, said the Edinburgh South MP had “fought and won against the odds” throughout his life.

The party’s sole MP north of the border, Murray launched his campaign to be Labour deputy leader last week with a pledge to take “personal responsibility” for rooting out anti-semitism within the party.

He said Labour could no longer afford to “face both ways” on constitutional questions like Brexit and Scottish independence, advocating for protecting the union as well as maintaining a close relationship with Brussels.

Phillips said her decision to back Murray came out of a conviction that Labour “must be a party for every region and nation of the UK”.

It was reported that Murray was advising Phillips – who visited Glasgow during her brief leadership campaign – on Scotland-related issues, as well as advising bookies’ favourite Keir Starmer.

Phillips also revealed on Wednesday she is backing Lisa Nandy for party leader over rivals Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

She said: “Our party needs to change for the future and Ian is my first preference for Labour deputy leader.

“Labour must be a party for every region and nation of the UK, standing up for our values of solidarity and working together, and Ian is the candidate who best understands that.

“Ian has put forward a positive vision not only for our party, but also for the country.

“He recognises that we can’t just talk to ourselves – we must listen to voters in seats we held, seats we lost and seats we have never held.”

The Birmingham Yardley MP added: “People didn’t trust Labour in the last election because they weren’t sure where we stood on the big issues of the day, and Ian is right that this can never happen again.

“All his life he has fought and won against the odds, and we need him at the top of our party.”

Welcoming Phillips’ endorsement, Murray said: “Jess has been a great friend and close confidante, and I’m honoured to have her support.

“Even though she is no longer standing for leader, she will have a pivotal role in shaping our party’s future.

“She knows how to reconnect with voters who have left us, and we need to draw on her talents to make Labour an election-winning force once again.

“My message is simple: if you are happy and satisfied with the current position of the Labour Party then don’t vote for me. I want us to change so we can win again.”

Scottish Labour is also carrying out its own deputy leadership contest after outgoing deputy Lesley Laird lost her seat in the general election last month.

The two candidates in the running were confirmed earlier this week as Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr.

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