Former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith MP denies Labour leadership bid

Reports that the former shadow cabinet member will enter the contest are conflicted.

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Sources close to the Labour MP and former work and pensions secretary Owen Smith have denied to the New Statesman that he is about to launch a bid for the Labour party leadership.

Earlier this week, following the former shadow cabinet member Angela Eagle MP's challenge to Jeremy Corbyn, PoliticsHome reported exclusively that Smith is also planning to enter the contest:

"A senior Labour source said Mr Smith will announce his candidacy this week, and could even do it after tomorrow's meeting of the party's ruling national executive committee."

But this story has been rejected by other insiders. PoliticsHome has not retracted its story, however, and the word around Westminster is that the "ambitious" Smith has been waiting to run in the circumstance that Corbyn is not automatically allowed back on the ballot.

Smith, who was first elected in 2010, is regarded in some quarters as a better bet than Eagle against Corbyn, as he did not vote for the Iraq war or for air strikes in Syria. Eagle did both. Smith, who resigned from the shadow cabinet during the wave of resignations following Brexit, said last week in a statement that he was ready to do anything to "save and serve" the Labour party.