UK Politics

Chuka Umunna 'might run for Labour leadership one day'

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Media captionChuka Umunna on future leadership: "I wouldn't say it's impossible but I think it's quite unlikely"

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has not ruled out one day running to lead the Labour Party - but says he hopes a vacancy does not arise.

Mr Umunna, who is backing Liz Kendall to replace Ed Miliband, said he had withdrawn from the contest because his "heart wasn't in it".

He previously cited the "pressure and scrutiny" that came with the role.

The Streatham MP told BBC Newsnight there were "no skeletons", adding: "I have absolutely nothing to hide."

Mr Umunna hopes to assume a prominent role for Labour within the EU referendum campaign.

'Hesitancy'

But he acknowledged concerns for the party, suggesting campaigning alongside Conservatives and too vociferously in favour of EU membership could make the party vulnerable to UKIP.

There are 44 seats where UKIP is now in second place to Labour.

"There is a degree of hesitancy on the Labour side when it comes to making the case for us to stay in," Mr Umunna said.

"I think everyone is agreed 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."

He said it was a "worry" that this could hand seats to UKIP.

'No revelations'

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Image caption Mr Umunna has said he will now support Liz Kendall in her bid to be Labour leader

Explaining why he ruled himself out of the contest, Mr Umunna said: "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."

He added: "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."

Asked whether he could ever withstand the scrutiny, he said: "If I ever chose to do something like this in the future then I'd have a much better understanding of it, but what I would say is I hope that issue of standing for the leadership never presents itself in my political journey again, because there should not be a vacancy because we will have a Labour PM in place in 2020.

"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"

He also said Ms Kendall had been "making all the arguments that I would have been making if I was still in the contest".

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