Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has withdrawn from the leadership race just three days after confirming he will seek to take over from Ed Miliband.
Mr Umunna said he was shocked at the level of press scrutiny facing him and his family, amid claims national newspaper journalist had questioned his mother, his girlfriend and her grandmother.
In a statement, the frontrunner to head the party’s rebuilding after last week’s general election defeat said he had underestimated the level of scrutiny to which he and his family would be subjected.
“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 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.”
Sources close to Mr Umunna insisted that his withdrawal was not due to any negative story which he expects to appear in the media.
It is understood that he was uncomfortable with the increased level of scrutiny which had been directed at him and members of his family, including his mother, since he declared his intention to stand for the leadership.
His team were confident that he would secure the 35 nominations from fellow MPs required to mount a leadership bid, but he decided that it was not the right time for him to press ahead.
He is not at this stage endorsing any other candidate for the leadership.