Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
13 July 2016

Owen Smith to become second challenger to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

The former shadow work and pensions secretary is to throw his hat in the ring. 

By Julia Rampen

Owen Smith, who resigned from the shadow Cabinet in June, has announced he will stand as a second challenger to Jeremy Corbyn later today. 

The embattled Labour leader will be included automatically on the ballot, Labour’s National Executive Committee ruled last night.

Unlike Corbyn, Smith needs the nomination of 51 MPs or MEPs to stand. 

He said the party needs to heal, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that: “We need to turn the page.”

Jeremy Corbyn could not “win for Labour”, he added. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Smith previously declared he was ready to do “whatever it takes” to stop the party imploding. He made the announcement after speaking to Labour members in his constituency.

But the announcement appears to come after days of flip flopping, with Smith only two days previously denying he would make a bid for the top job.

Former shadow Business secretary Angela Eagle has already declared she will challenge Corbyn, but there are fears her record of voting for the war in Iraq and bombing in Syria will haunt her.

Smith is expected to position himself to Eagle’s left, particularly on anti-austerity policies.

Who is Owen Smith?

The Labour MP for Pontypridd won his seat in 2010. A former radio producer and special adviser, he quickly earned a seat on the shadow front bench. In 2012, Ed Miliband appointed him to the shadow Cabinet, as shadow secretary of state for Wales. Unlike some of his shadow Cabinet colleagues from the Miliband era, Smith kept his Cabinet seat under Corbyn, where he served as shadow Work and Pensions secretary. But in June, after the Brexit vote, he joined other MPs in a mass resignation in protest at Corbyn’s leadership. 

In January, while still in his post, he told The New Statesman he was interested in being Labour leader and “it would be “an incredible honour and privilege” to do the job.

Asked whether he would stand in the future, the former shadow Welsh secretary said: “I don’t think there’s any vacancy right now. But I think any politician who comes into this to want to try and change the world for the better, starting with their own patch and working outwards, I think they’re either in the wrong game or fibbing if they don’t say, ‘if you had the opportunity to be in charge and put in place your vision for a better Britain would you take it?’ Yeh, of course, it would be an incredible honour and privilege to be able to do that.” 

Smith emphasised, however, that he expected Corbyn to lead Labour into the 2020 general election and offered a more unambiguous endorsement than some of his shadow cabinet colleagues. “Jeremy is going to lead us into the election, he’s the leader of the Labour Party … He’s said very, very clearly that he wants to take us into the next election, he won a stonking great majority. Jeremy is going to be taking us into the election in 2020. End of.”