MPs split over who they will back for Labour leadership as Andy Burnham visits

Neighbouring Labour MPs are split over the candidates they will back in the party’s leadership race.

A large crowd turned out for a meeting supporting Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham on Monday.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer hosted the meeting at St Pancras Church.

John Prescott spoke alongside Sir Keir and Mr Burnham.

Sir Keir said: “I am backing Andy because he is the person best placed to unite the party, and to lead us to victory in the next general election. The atmosphere at the meeting was generally very positive. Obviously, not everyone there had made up their mind how to vote, but they seemed to like what Andy had to say.”

During the meeting, Mr Burnham promised that he would “run this government ragged every single day” if he was elected to be leader.

Sir Keir said he has long held the view that the Labour party should have had the debate about the future direction of the Labour Party before the leadership election.

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“In that respect, I think we have put the cart before the horse, but all the same, I think it’s a debate we needed to have.

Although veteran left-winger Mr Corbyn is now the red-hot favourite to win, Sir Keir said it is difficult to prejudge the outcome of the election because of the way the second, third and fourth preference works.

Sir Keir added that he doesn’t think “Corbynmania” is a bad thing for the party.

“Jeremy has added a great deal to the election exercise and it’s a very good thing that we have so many people listening to a very wide debate.”

However, he would not be drawn on whether he would serve in a shadow cabinet led by Mr Corbyn.

He said: “I don’t want to get into all of that. I think it would be presumptuous to assume anyone wold ask.”

Meanwhile Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has confirmed she will vote for front-runner Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election.

Ms West was one of the MPs who nominated Mr Corbyn in May, but several of those who did so claimed they only put Mr Corbyn forward to “widen the debate” and would not vote for him in September.

Ms West, however, has nailed her colours firmly to the Corbyn mast, writing a blog post on Monday to confirm her support for the Islington North MP.

She wrote: “In my previous role as Leader of Islington Council, I always found Jeremy to be a supportive MP, who understood how difficult it was to lead a large borough with high levels of inequality and who supported the tough choices I had to make as Council leader in a period of Tory austerity.

“Like Jeremy, I am a product of North London Labour politics – although not the shallow media stereotype of dinner parties and the Granita pact. It is the politics of defending people who have been hardest hit by the Conservative Party’s onslaught against communities like ours.”

She added that she was as surprised as anyone at the “Corbynmania” which has ensued, but delighted to see how Mr Corbyn is appealing to so many young and disaffected voters.