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Veteran MP Keith Vaz backs Yvette Cooper for Labour leader

STAND OUT CANDIDATE: Keith Vaz, centre, says he is backing Yvette Cooper, far left, for Labour leadership

LABOUR MP Keith Vaz has formally announced that he will be backing Yvette Cooper as the next party leader.

The chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee said Cooper was his “stand out” candidate in statement.

He said: “Her record in government and shadow government is incredibly impressive. She knows our political system inside out, and would hit the ground running in building a modern, progressive Labour movement.”

Writing for the New Statesman, Vaz explained that the party had a major task ahead of the 2020 elections, which begins with establishing why voters “didn’t have faith in the party.”

At a BAME hustings in Harrow last month, Cooper pledged to double the number of MPs from ethnic minorities.

Vaz added: “In this one example, you see how Yvette understands this party at the grassroots level, she will be able to draw together a passionate, mobilized organization in five years’ time.”

The Leicester MP said improving the party’s record with ethnic minorities would be key to restoring faith in the party and Cooper would be the leader to do it.

“We need a leader who will champion diversity. We need to work harder for BAME communities, and not just hope that younger generations will vote the same way as their parents,” he said.

"In Yvette, we have a candidate who is extraordinary at the despatch box, and is then smashing on the dancefloor every year at Labour’s Diversity Night. This is why I am joining many other MPs in supporting Yvette to be leader."

Cooper who was first elected in 1997 has nearly two decades of parliamentary experience having held a number of significant roles including being the first woman to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

“I have worked with Yvette for many years, including on the demanding Home Affairs agenda, and I can think of no person more effective, more determined, or as politically intuitive as Yvette Cooper,” Vaz went on. “She is ready lead our Party into the 2020 election, and then back into government.”

The race for labour leader is anticipated to be a tight competition between Cooper and Andy Burnham who is backed by newly re-elected MP Dawn Butler.

Writing for the Huffington Post the Brent Central MP said “A Labour Party lead by Andy Burnham will always make sure that our movement is truly open and inclusive, not just welcoming diversity in all its forms, but driven by diversity. This isn't just the right thing to do - it is the only way that we can fully rebuild our party as an election winning movement.”

If Cooper is successful she will be party’s first elected female leader. Elections for leadership are set to take place in September.

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