ANGELA EAGLE was branded the “Empire Strikes Back” candidate yesterday in the Labour leadership election she’s unleashed by formally challenging Jeremy Corbyn.
Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott put Ms Eagle to the lightsabre, saying her record of voting for the Iraq war and tuition fees proves that she is on the dark side.
ITV’s Good Morning Britain show had asked how Ms Eagle could be the Blairites’ “new hope” after failing to win the deputy leadership last summer.
“I think she’s the Empire Strikes Back candidate — she voted for Iraq, she voted for tuition fees,” said Ms Abbott.
“And someone who came fourth out of five to be deputy, it’s not clear to me that she can win the leadership.”
Ms Eagle hit back at her campaign launch in Westminster, claiming instead to represent the “Return of the Jedi.”
The rebel described herself as a “practical socialist driven by a strong set of values who wants to get things done” and accused Mr Corbyn of “hiding behind a door not talking to his MPs.
“That’s not leadership,” she said. “He’s opened the party to new ideas, but we need other people to take them forward.”
But it was revealed yesterday that Ms Eagle is facing a vote of no confidence by members of her local party, which backs Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
Wallasey Constituency Labour Party is expected to debate the motion on July 22, vice-chair Paul Davies said.
And in another humiliating blow, there was a mass exodus of journalists from her campaign launch event when the news broke that Andrea Leadsom had unexpectedly pulled out of the Tory leadership contest.
Ms Eagle called for the BBC, ITV and then Channel 4 political correspondents to ask a question — only to find they had already left.
She insisted her challenge was not a “suicide mission” but she will be dealt a significant blow if Labour’s national executive rules at today’s emergency meeting that Mr Corbyn’s name should automatically be on the ballot paper.
Left-wing executive member Christine Shawcroft said: “The only reason we are having this argument is that Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents want to keep him off the ballot paper because that’s their only hope of winning. When he’s on that ballot paper, he will win.”