Sunderland's MPs disagree over who should be the next Labour Party leader
Sunderland’s Labour MPs disagree over who should replace Jeremy Corbyn as their party’s leader following December’s crushing General Election defeat.
Mr Corbyn is expected to be replaced by the beginning of April following Labour’s defeat by the Conservatives before Christmas.
While the party’s Sunderland MPs retained their seats, all three saw their majorities cut.
Each has now chosen a different candidate in the first phase of voting.
Leadership contenders need 22 nominations from the party’s 212 MPS and MEPs by the start of next week to qualify for the second round of voting.
Latest figures released by Labour show that shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has 63 nominations so far with likely main rival Rebecca Long-Bailey on 26.
Lisa Nandy has 24 supporters, Jess Phillips has 22 and Emily Thornberry nine with Clive Lewis trailing in last with four.
Bridget Phillipson, the Houghton and Sunderland South MP, who saw her majority slashed to just over 3,000 in December, is backing Sir Keir as “he has got what it takes to win over voters in constituencies we need to form a government”.
She added: “Our new leader needs to be a Prime Minister in waiting and I believe that Keir has demonstrated in Parliament that he has got what it takes.
“He served as director of public prosecutions and he’s proved beyond doubt that he is someone of integrity and real ability.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, whose own majority was reduced to just under 3,000 last month, has plumped for Mrs Phillips although she has yet to explain her decision.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, who saw her winning margin cut to just over 3,700 in 2019, has chosen Ms Nandy although she too has still to outline why.
MPs have until Monday, January 13, to submit their nominations with candidates needing to secure 10% of votes to qualify for the next phase.
Those who survive will then have to secure the backing of 5% of constituency Labour branches or at least three affiliate groups, two of which must be made up of trade unions, to get onto the final ballot paper and face election by the overall membership.