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Owen Smith challenges Jeremy Corbyn for UK Labour leadership

Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith will appeal to party members and supporters for their votes and the result will be announced on September 24 at the party conference Photograph: (AFP)

AFP London, United Kingdom Jul 20, 2016, 04.50 PM (IST)
Former BBC producer Owen Smith will be the sole challenger against veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn to lead Britain`s opposition Labour Party after registrations for the race closed on Wednesday.

The Welsh MP has portrayed him as a leftist candidate and has praised Corbyn but has faced criticism for his past as a lobbyist for the pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and his support for the Iraq war.

Another challenger, Angela Eagle, dropped out of the race on Tuesday when it was clear she was short of endorsements from Labour lawmakers to continue.

Corbyn and Smith will now appeal to party members and supporters for their votes and the result will be announced on September 24 at the party conference.

Smith is barely known outside of Westminster and Wales but moderates in the Labour party are hoping he will dethrone the current Labour leader, who has been heavily criticised for lukewarm campaigning in favour of Britain staying in the European Union.

In a statement on his Facebook page, former Labour leader Ed Miliband urged party members to support Smith.

"I believe Owen can build a Labour Party and a country of which we can be proud. But he can`t do it without your help.... It could be the most important political decision you ever make," Miliband said.

Smith served as Welsh spokesman under Miliband and was made work and pensions spokesman under Corbyn.

The Welsh MP has paid tribute to Corbyn for "helping Labour discover its radical roots" but said the party needed a new generation to take it forward.

Smith also announced he would offer Corbyn the role of party president if he wins.

(AFP)
 
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