The Labour leadership battle stepped up a gear today amid claims that Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner could form a ‘dream ticket’.
Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Rayner, long-standing allies, are said to have agreed a deal that would see the former run for the top job, and the latter for deputy.
The pact could cement the shadow business secretary’s status as the favourite in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Long-Bailey is believed to have the backing of Mr Corbyn and is viewed by many in the party as the continuity candidate who would continue along the same policy lines as the outgoing leader.
Ms Rayner, the shadow education secretary, had been talked of as a potential contender for the top job too.
But if the two shadow cabinet ministers have agreed a pact it could boost both their chances of winning from the left of the party.
However, Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Rayner are likely to face a bruising battle for the roles with numerous contenders expected to emerge in the coming days for each position.
Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner, pictured today attending the funeral of Frank Dobson, have reportedly agreed a pact for the Labour leadership
Clive Lewis, a former shadow minister, today broke cover to say that he is considering a tilt at the leadership, joining Lisa Nandy who said yesterday she is weighing up whether to run.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer today refused to rule out a bid to replace Mr Corbyn who will step down once a successor has been elected after he led the party to a crushing defeat at the ballot box and its worst set of results since the 1930s.
Mr Lewis told the BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire programme: ‘I am thinking about it. We will see if I stand.’
Asked what he could offer, Mr Lewis said: ‘I think one of the things you are going to need to be able to do is to reach out to both sides of this discussion, both sides of this argument.
‘We have got Remainers and Leavers still as part of the electorate and my seat was a 60/40 split and I came back.’
Labour suffered heavy losses to the Tories in the party’s former heartlands last week.
Mr Lewis said he did not believe that could be blamed purely on Brexit or on concerns about the Labour leadership.
He said: ‘If you just look at what happened in those seats on Thursday night, this has been 40 years in the making… look at a lot of those constituencies, after New Labour had finished many of those constituencies were still in a bad state, still had terrible unemployment, still had poor resources, poor services that were there for them.
Clive Lewis, pictured in London in June this year, said today he is thinking about running to be the next Labour leader
‘They had never been invested in. Do we really think that simply pointing a finger at the fact that some people thought that leaving the European Union and not having a second referendum was the sole reason… we cannot say that it was one single, simple answer.’
Sir Keir, the shadow Brexit secretary, was asked whether he intended to stand this morning but he dodged the question.
He told Sky News: ‘This is a moment for reflection. We are talking to lots of colleagues. The competition doesn’t open until early next year.’
Ms Rayner could face competition for the deputy role – vacated by Tom Watson who stood down at the election last week – from shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner who is also reportedly weighing up a bid.