Chuka Umunna was many peoples’ favourite to become the next Labour leader. Sensationally he removed himself from the Labour leadership race just days after the throwing his hat into the ring. Today he backed Liz Kendall for leader, but he's yet to talk about why he, himself, had such a change of heart. Below is a transcript of a rather candid interview about his reasons for dropping out and where the Labour party is right now - which will be on Newsnight tonight:
On why he ruled himself out:
“The level of media attention and pressure…when it began to affect my girlfriend, her family and my family and we had reporters for example going to her family when they were in the middle of having their Sunday roast with her 97 year old grandmother - I found that very hard to stomach.”
“For once I thought in my life I’m going to put my family, my girlfriend, her family, put them first - and this is not the right time for me.”
“My heart wasn’t really in it at that moment, particularly going through that experience. There were no skeletons, no revelations, I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
On when he considered being a possible Labour leader:
“It didn’t really enter my mind in a serious way until half way through the parliament - when people were contemplating who would win and then what would happen after.”
On ever running again:
“Never say never, but right now this is not the priority in my life… I wouldn’t say it was impossible but I think it’s quite unlikely”
On Liz Kendall:
“Liz has been making all the arguments on that [on challenging the traditional social democratic model] that I would have been making if I was still in the contest. Not only posing the questions but also beginning to chart a way to finding the answers.”
On Ed Miliband .
AS: Were you sharing worries about the Ed Miliband direction of travel? The two of you [Umunna and Kendall]?
CU: Oh, yes, during our time in the last Parliament. But I want to be absolutely clear, Ed is a friend of mine and I have a huge amount of respect for him and I think having dipped one’s toe in the leadership pond you have even more respect for him.”
On the EU Referendum
“There is a degree of hesitancy on the Labour side when it comes to making the case for us to stay in. I think everyone is agreed that that is where we are and that is our position as a party, but the extent to which we should put ourselves at the forefront of the campaign to stay in there is a degree of hesitancy.
“There is a worry that what beset us after the Scottish referendum - where we were on the winning side of the argument in terms of the way the referendum went but we saw the fall out after - there is a worry that that same fate will beset the Labour party in parts of England.
AS: And hand seats to UKIP?
“Well, that is a worry.”
On 2018 Labour leader re-affirmation:
“I don’t think it can be dismissed out of hand. But I think when we make the argument we have to consider what message that gives to people.”
You can watch the interview tonight at 22.30 on Newsnight