Owen Smith: 'I can be the next Labour prime minister'

Owen Smith MP
Image caption Owen Smith: 'I can heal this party. I can be a credible Labour leader and the next prime minister'

Owen Smith has been explaining why he hopes to stand for the Labour leadership.

The Pontypridd MP, who resigned from the shadow cabinet last month, told the BBC he was "not part of any plot or coup against Jeremy Corbyn" but the leader had rejected compromises he had suggested.

"I think that leaves people like me who love this party and want to see a Labour government to put our hat in the ring and say, 'I can heal this party, I can be a credible Labour leader and the next prime minister'."

Although the former shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said in January: "Jeremy is going to be taking us into the election in 2020. End of", he said MPs had since lost confidence in Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Mr Smith will be battling Angela Eagle for the anti-Corbyn vote. She voted for the Iraq invasion. Mr Smith said he was against the war: "I wasn't in parliament at the time. I would have voted against."

At the time, he was working as a special adviser to Paul Murphy, who was secretary of state for Wales and Northern Ireland.


Three years later, fighting the Blaenau Gwent by-election, Mr Smith told Martin Shipton of the Western Mail : "We are making significant inroads in improving what is happening in Iraq.

"I thought at the time the tradition of the Labour Party and the tradition of left-wing engagement to remove dictators was a noble, valuable tradition, and one that in South Wales, from the Spanish Civil War onwards, we have recognised and played a part in."

Although the Western Mail said at the time that Mr Smith didn't know whether he would have voted against the war, he later made clear that he would have joined the rebellion against Tony Blair's government.

He said on Wednesday he would not vote to hold Tony Blair in contempt of parliament although it was clearly the wrong decision to go to war.

His entry into the contest was welcomed by shadow Chancellor and Corbyn ally John McDonnell, although some Corbyn opponents fear that having two "unity" candidates will allow the current leader to survive.

Some MPs have suggested either Ms Eagle or Mr Smith should withdraw to maximise the chances of defeating Mr Corbyn although neither shows any sign of being prepared to give way to the other.