ANDY Burnham is now the favourite to take over as leader of the Labour party after main rival Chuka Umunna announced his withdrawal.
Just three days after saying he wanted to take over from Ed Milliband, the Streatham MP has said that the “added level of pressure” has forced him to opt out.
It now leaves Mr Burnham, who retained his seat in Leigh last week, as the favourite with the bookmakers – with some putting him odds on – to be chosen by Labour party members to take the reins.
Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have also announced they are to stand with Tristram Hunt all but confirming he will be standing during Question Time last night.
In a statement, Mr Umunna said: “As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.
“However since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate.
I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate. I have not found it to be a comfortable experienceChuka Umunna
“I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.
“One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and the attention but nothing compares to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one’s life.
“Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy.
“I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as I surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid - I fear it was.
“Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me.
“I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories. I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial. Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love - the Streatham parliamentary constituency.”