Former Grimsby MP Melanie Onn backs Jess Phillips for next Labour leader

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Former Labour MP for Grimsby Melanie Onn has said Jess Phillips would be in a "very good position to be able to reach out to ordinary people" as the Birmingham Yardley MP looked set to announce she would stand for the Labour leadership.

Ms Onn, who lost her seat in the December election, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning: "Well, we haven't had everybody declaring who is going to stand as yet, but I'm really looking for somebody who is going to be honest, I'm looking for somebody with a USP that is going to transcend normal politics, I'm looking for somebody who is going to be unafraid to share their views and opinions and be prepared to back those up with very strong committed arguments.

"And I think that at the moment, while we've got Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, we need somebody with an incredibly strong personality who's not going to be afraid to stand up to him and is going to scrutinise him in a way that he does not appreciate.

"And I think that, were Jess to formally declare, that she would be in a very good position to be able to reach out to ordinary people around the country, speak their language and make people feel like she understands what it is that they're saying."

Former Labour MP for Grimsby, Melanie Onn. Photo: JPI Media

Former Labour MP for Grimsby, Melanie Onn. Photo: JPI Media

Others are also expected to announce their intentions soon, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, close Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy considering challenges.

Ms Phillips would appear to be a relatively popular choice with the Labour members who will help select the leader.

She came third in a YouGov survey of the membership behind both Sir Keir and shadow business secretary Ms Long-Bailey.

Sir Keir would beat Ms Long-Bailey, who is the favoured candidate of key figures in the current leadership, in a run-off 61 er cent to 39 per cent, according to the early survey.

But the other candidates will be hoping to boost their profiles with the race not expected to formally get under way until Tuesday and a new leader not expected until the end of March.

Labour's disastrous election performance that helped Boris Johnson's Tories win an 80-strong majority has been the subject of an intense post-mortem examination.

The party's Brexit position, Mr Corbyn's unpopularity and his ambitious left-wing programme have all been the subject of scrutiny.