Breaking news: Chuka Umunna withdraws from Labour leadership contest due to uncomfortable pressure

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has withdrawn from the Labour leadership contest after finding the added pressure uncomfortable.

Mr Umunna announced just three days ago that he would be standing to replace Ed Miliband, who resigned following Labour’s disastrous result in last week’s General Election.

Mr Umunna was one of the favourites to take over the party, but has now taken himself out of the firing line.

In a statement he said he first decided to stand for the leadership before the General Election in the event Labour would not win a majority.

He also said he found being a leadership candidate was not a comfortable experience and he believes he made his leadership bid too soon.

The statement read:

‘Shortly before the election campaign, I made the decision, in the event that Labour was defeated and a new Leader was to be elected, to stand for the leadership of the party if there was a desire in the party for me to do so.

‘I dearly hoped Labour would win the election and it was a decision I would not have to implement. I also thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring.

‘As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.

‘However since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate. I have not found it to be a comfortable experience. One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and attention but nothing compared to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one’s life.

‘Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy. I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as a surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid – I fear it was.

‘Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me. I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories. I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial. Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love – the Streatham parliamentary constituency.’

Feature image courtesy of Labour Party, via Flickr

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