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David Lammy rules himself out of Labour leadership race

LAMMY FOR LONDON: David Lammy won't be running for leader of the Labour Party

ONE OF Labour’s most senior black MPs has ruled himself out of the running to become the next party leader following Ed Miliband’s resignation.

Tottenham MP David Lammy, who admitted he would consider a leadership bid if colleagues wanted him, today confirmed that he would be focusing on his ambition to become Mayor of London.

He told BBC2's Daily Politics show: "I am not going to be standing for the Labour leadership because I think we need a leader that can win back the Midlands and understand Scotland, as well as the South.

"My strengths are in London and the south and therefore I want to be the Labour candidate for mayor."

It means that Streatham MP Chuka Umunna who has long been tipped as a rising star in his party is to date the only black candidate expected to make a challenge.

The next leader will have to play a vital role in shaping the party as it rebuilds itself in the wake of Thursday’s painful election defeat.

Umunna, who will remain shadow business secretary, appears to have set out his stall early.

In the wake of the election, he penned an exclusive comment piece for the Guardian newspaper outlining his vision for the party.

He later appeared on Andrew Marr’s BBC show and was pictured with his girlfriend, employement lawyer Alice Sullivan, on his way into the studio.

The 35-year-old has long been compared to Barack Obama and he has received support from both former prime minister Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson - divisive figures within the party.

But his apparent power grab has been criticised by Diane Abbott MP, the first black woman to be elected to parliament, who criticised her colleague for being openly critical of Miliband so soon after the election.

She told reporters: “I’m surprised he didn’t raise these issues in cabinet at the time when it might have been possible to make a change to the strategy.”

Abbott said she hoped to see “more than a new face at the top.”

“We need to look at our policies and how we engage with our communities up and down in the country and in Scotland,” she added.

Abbott previously ran for Labour leader herself in 2010 but has ruled out doing it a second time.

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said her focus would also be the mayoral race.

She faces competition not only from Lammy, but also frontrunner Tessa Jowell and underdog Christian Wolmar.

Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, who coordinated Labour’s election campaign in London, is also expected to stand.

It was revealed today that the former shadow justice secretary had stepped down from Labour’s shadow cabinet.

In a resignation letter to acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, Khan said: “I'm naturally devastated that there won't be a Labour justice secretary to repair the damage done by the coalition over the last five years. But after a period of reflection I have decided that I should step down from serving in the shadow cabinet. This is an opportunity for others to take on a leading role as we start the fightback for 2020.”

He added: “After taking advice from family, friends and constituents I will decide how best I can contribute to the fight over the coming months and years.”

Harman praised him for his “outstanding work”, adding: “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours and know that you will continue to make a major contribution to public life and the Labour Party.”

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