Lisa Nandy’s bid to win the UK Labour leadership race has received a fresh boost after former contender Jess Phillips said she was now backing her to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Phillips announced on Tuesday that she was pulling out of the contest, saying she was not the right person to unite the party after its crushing general election defeat.
She said that while she would support both Keir Starmer and Ms Nandy among the remaining four contenders, Ms Nandy would be her “number one preference”.
“I’ve said that right now, I can’t bring the party together and that’s why I have withdrawn from the race,” Ms Phillips said.
“I think both Lisa and Keir can unite the party and begin the process of winning back trust with the country.
“I’ll be voting for Lisa and Keir, as I think that they can do that. Lisa will be my number one preference.”
In a campaign speech at the Centrepoint charity in London, Ms Nandy said she would raise taxes in order to reverse Tory welfare cuts.
The Wigan MP said the party needed to go out and make the case that taxation was not “evil” but was essential to pay for public services.
“It cannot be right that the poorest can find themselves paying the highest marginal effective rate of tax – that bakers’ bonuses are taxed more than bankers. The root is Universal Credit, and the cuts made in 2012,” Ms Nandy said.
“I would immediately reverse these, paid for by cancelling the Tories’ proposed changes to the national insurance contributions threshold, while we design a progressive tax system that works for the least well-off.
“We need to change the debate. Tax is not an evil. Tax is how we contribute to something bigger, better than ourselves.”
She said she would use the tax system to penalise large companies which refused to pay their employees the living wage.