Angela Eagle withdraws UK Labour leadership challenge

Angela Eagle has withdrawn from the contest for Labour’s leadership in order to back Owen Smith as a “unity candidate” to challenge Jeremy Corbyn.

The Wallasey MP was the first to mount a public challenge to the Labour leader, but decided to withdraw after it became apparent Mr Smith had secured more nominations from party MPs and MEPs. Former shadow work and pensions secretary Mr Smith will now go forward to fight Mr Corbyn in a ballot of party members and supporters which ends on September 24.

Speaking at Westminster, Ms Eagle said she would be backing Mr Smith, adding: “We are in lock-step together, arguing for a united Labour Party.”

Meanwhile, a legal challenge over Brexit is to be heard by the High Court in October, two judges decided.

Government lawyers told the court in London that Prime Minister Theresa May had made clear she did not intend to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of 2016.

That would give the High Court time to make a ruling, and for the Supreme Court to hear any subsequent appeal before the start of the formal process for Britain’s departure from the EU. The judges were assured that if the Government position changed the parties bringing the legal challenge would be warned.

Many “concerned citizens” have joined the legal action over Article 50, and it has been described as “the most important constitutional law case in living memory”.

The judges heard that one of the law firms involved, Mishcon de Reya, had received letters of abuse which led to potential clients who had wanted to join the action withdrawing their names.

David Pannick QC, instructed by Mishcon, told the court publicity generated by the case “has provoked a large quantity of abuse directed at my solicitors”.

He asked that the names of persons who had been intending to join the action but were no longer claimants should be redacted from pre-action protocol letters to protect their identities.

Brian Leveson, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, agreed to the request and warned there was a real risk that individuals acting in an abusive and threatening manner would be guilty of contempt of court.

The legal challenge will be heard over two to three days in October


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