Owen Smith: 'I stand ready to do anything I can'

Image caption Owen Smith: 'I stand ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party'

As Conservative MPs plough on with shortlisting their leadership candidates, the coup against Jeremy Corbyn remains a work in progress.

Pontypridd MP and potential leadership candidate Owen Smith - issued this statement on Thursday morning:

"Over the last week, I have been contacted by hundreds of Labour members and MPs deeply worried that the Labour Party is truly in danger of splitting apart. I share those fears and call on everyone in our movement to do all we can to avert such a disastrous outcome.

"I stand ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party. Yesterday, I spoke directly with Len McCluskey of Unite and met with our leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to explore what I can do to try and heal the rifts that have opened up in our movement. On behalf of the trades unions, Len has reassured me that the talks he has opened up between Jeremy and Tom Watson have been productive and has asked that they are given more time this weekend to see what further progress can be made towards a resolution.

'Open mind'

"Jeremy has also reassured me that he is engaging in talks with an open mind. I believe that all of us whose priority is to restore unity in the Labour movement and give us a chance to defeat our only true enemy, the Tories, should give these talks every chance to succeed. That is what I intend to do and I urge all my colleagues to do likewise."

Mr McCluskey told the BBC: "We are seeking time, we're asking people to give us time. There's no haste here, there's no rush for anybody to declare. So we're asking for people to give us a little bit of time -- to see what we can do."

There may be "no rush" but the former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said: "This can't go on for very much longer and if Jeremy can't be persuaded to step down there will be a challenge.....it isn't going to drag on indefinitely."

Mr Corbyn may be "engaging in talks with an open mind" but has said he is going nowhere. And if he is challenged, many Labour MPs fear he would be re-elected. If Len McCluskey can broker a deal that satisfies everybody, it will be no small feat.