Ed Balls 'not quitting' Labour leadership race

Ed Balls
Image caption Ed Balls says he is fighting for the future of the Labour party

Ed Balls has rejected speculation that he is considering quitting the Labour leadership contest.

The shadow education secretary told the BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend he was "fighting to the end and I'm fighting to win".

Speculation about his leadership bid came after he failed to win the backing of the Unite union, which gave its endorsement to Ed Miliband.

Ed Balls is being backed by the Communication Workers Union.

Mr Balls has also issued a statement on his campaign blog in which he says he has "never been a front runner in this campaign".

He added: "I did not have the early organisation of some other candidates and I am behind on formal CLP [Constituency Labour Party] and union endorsements."

But he goes on to say: "My message to local party activists, councillors and union members is this: I am fighting to defend the jobs and front line public services in your local communities.

"I will carry on fighting to stop unfair tax rises and the withdrawal of essential benefits, I will carry on fighting to defeat a coalition hell-bent on cutting public services, putting up VAT, cancelling new schools and turning recovery into a double-dip recession.

"I am fighting to win this leadership contest to continue these campaigns, to give a voice to our communities and constituents and to show that as leader I would be best placed to set out an alternative plan for jobs and social justice for our country.

"I joined this contest because I believed this was a fight worth fighting for the future of our party and our country. I still do."

Mr Balls' rival Ed Miliband now has the support of Unison and the GMB unions as well as Unite. His brother David has won the support of two unions - Community and Usdaw.

Diane Abbott is currently being supported by two unions, the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF). The fifth candidate in the election is Andy Burnham.

Supporting nominations from unions, MPs and constituency Labour parties will close next Monday.

Voting is due to begin in September, with the result due to be announced at the start of Labour's annual conference in Manchester on 25 September.

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