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Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith warns of ‘Right-wing darkness’ if party fails to unite

ffLabour leadership challenger Owen Smith has warned that if his party fails to unite it will open the door to “forces of radical, Right-wing darkness”.

Mr Smith said a divided party would mean Labour was out of power for “a long time” and could even “disappear”, leaving the way clear for the political Right.

He claimed Jeremy Corbyn lacked the strength to hold the party together and policy substance, adding that under his rival the party is “howling into the wind”.

Two recent polls show Labour falling further behind Theresa May’s Conservatives, and Mr Smith’s comment about the “forces of radical, Right-wing darkness” comes as Ukip threatens to steal votes from the party in its northern heartlands.

Speaking at a rally of his supporters in London last night, he addressed fears of a split saying: “I’m not prepared for that to happen.


“That’s why I’m standing, that’s why I intend to win this contest.”

Launching his attack on Mr Corbyn, the former shadow work and pensions secretary said: “I don’t think he has the strength to lead us forward. I don’t think he’s got the ability to take a step beyond the slogans. It’s just flapping our lips, it’s howling into the wind.”

Mr Smith told 500 party members in Pimlico that Mrs May closing the Department for Energy and Climate Change and scrapping the minister for refugees post made his “blood boil”

But he added: “It makes me furious that they’re doing this but what is worse than the fact that they’re doing it, is that we’re not stopping them. We’re not fighting this stuff.”

The 46-year-old MP also laid the blame for the Brexit decision at his leader’s door, saying: “No wonder people responded to that message ‘take back power, take back control’ because they feel as though they lost it and at the moment they don’t feel the Labour party is their champion.”

He went on: “There is a clear and present danger that the Labour Party that we all love, that we came into politics to serve, may disappear.”

He described London as a “microcosm” of divided Britain, where “some do very well and many do not” and that the party should be “angry” about it.

The Pontypridd MP, a father-of-three, said the party should be “deeply intolerant” of inequality in Britain.


He added: “Under me it will be our mission for the 21st century to eradicate those inequalities across London and the entire country. That’s what Labour has always been about and it’s what London needs to be about again.”

Mr Smith admitted he had yet to speak to London Mayor Sadiq Khan about his campaign, but said he “hoped to have a meeting with him in the next few weeks”. He said: “If I get the chance to lead the Labour Party I want to work hand in glove with Sadiq.”