Chuka Umunna quashes leadership bid rumours and praises Labour successes

Chuka Umunna quashed rumours of running for Labour leadership as he revelled in securing his third term for Streatham this morning.

Taking aim at the Conservatives’ campaign and plan for Brexit, Mr Umunna criticised prominent Brexiteers’ false promises over the course of the EU referendum.

Instead, he praised his Labour colleagues, with a focus on party leader Jeremy Corbyn, hinting he would be open to joining his cabinet.

“I want to see Labour get into government and I’ll do that in every and any way that I can,” he said.

Mr Umunna spoke of a public backlash against Tory cuts to school budgets and the NHS, as well as a hard Brexit.

“Labour’s optimistic, open and inclusive vision has contrasted with the Conservatives’ miserable, closed and divisive approach,” he said.

“I also want to pay tribute tonight to Jeremy Corbyn. He has run an energetic and engaging campaign,” he added.

Mr Umunna, who was once touted as the future leader of the Labour Party, appeared to put his full weight behind Corbyn.

He said: “There is absolutely no question hanging over Jeremy’s leadership.

“The only person who has a question hanging over their leadership is Theresa May.”

In the UK’s second highest pro-remain borough, Mr Umunna took a hard line on Brexit and the security of EU nationals in Lambeth.

“EU citizens here should have their rights guaranteed with immediate effect. And Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove must be held to account for the promises they made,” he said.

He confirmed he stood firmly for the UK to remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union.

“We all recognise the clear result of last year’s referendum, but I have always argued that nobody voted in that referendum to become poorer,” he said.

He was eager to celebrate Labour’s achievements of securing votes for women, founding the NHS, support for those with disabilities and minimum wage pledges.

For a candidate who secured in excess of 38,000 votes, far surpassing Conservative rival Kim Caddy, Mr Umunna was quick to thank the Streatham community.

“This is a culturally rich and diverse community; brimming with energy, talent and enthusiasm; full of hope and optimism for the future, but we have deep-rooted challenges too which have been exacerbated by seven years of Conservative failure and austerity,” he said.

Speaking personally, Mr Umunna joked how the election had been called at an inconvenient time for him – the day he returned from paternity leave – and used this to direct criticism at the Conservatives decision to call the general election.

He said: “Theresa May broke her promise and called this opportunistic general election to gain a personal mandate for her plans for an extreme Brexit.

“The indications this evening are that the British people have fundamentally rejected her vision for Brexit and her negative campaign.”

His feelings appeared to echo his constituents as they voted unanimously to keep the three Lambeth Labour MPs in their seats, alongside Vauxhall’s Kate Hoey and Dulwich’s Helen Hayes.

He ended his victorious evening making a promise to his supporters who have kept him as Streatham MP for the past seven years.

He said: “In me, you will have a Labour MP fighting your corner every minute of every day here in Lambeth.”

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