Jess Phillips is set to address supporters this afternoon as speculation mounts she will call time on her bid to become the next Labour leader.
The Birmingham Yardley MP’s attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn had ground to a halt as vital trade union backing has gone to her rivals.
Candidates need backing from three affiliates including unions to get through to the final ballot of members to avoid taking the harder route of picking up nominations from a broad swathe of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).
With Keir Starmer picking up Unison and Usdaw, and Rebecca Long-Bailey expected to with Unite support later this week, she is relying on a decision in her favour by the GMB this afternoon.
But reports suggest Lisa Nandy is in prime position to pick it up, thwarting Ms Phillips’ hopes of becoming Labour’s first female leader.
Jess Phillips, pictured at a hustings event in Liverpool on January 18, is facing an uphill struggle to make it onto the Labour leadership ballot paper
Emily Thornberry told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme today that she believes Boris Johnson has a ‘woman problem’
It came after Ms Phillips, 38, insisted immigration to the UK is not ‘too high’ as she desperately tried to kick start her faltering campaign.
She launched an appeal to moderate members of the party as she said Labour needed to tell voters that ‘immigration is great’.
Meanwhile, Emily Thornberry today tried to salvage her campaign as she argued having a woman at the top of the party would be an ‘advantage’ because Boris Johnson has a ‘woman problem’.
Ms Phillips, Ms Thornberry and Lisa Nandy are all at risk of being left behind in the race to take over from Jeremy Corbyn.
Sir Keir Starmer, the favourite in the contest, yesterday became the first candidate to make it onto the final ballot paper after securing the backing of another union.
He is expected to be joined on the ballot by fellow front runner Rebecca Long-Bailey who is likely to be endorsed by the powerful Unite union on Friday.
But it is make or break time for the other three candidates with a potential crunch point coming this afternoon, with the GMB union due to announce its endorsement.
Ms Nandy is the favourite to win the centrist union’s backing but without it her hopes of becoming Labour leader could be all but over.
To make it onto the final ballot the five candidates must win the nominations of 33 local constituency Labour parties or three Labour affiliates, including at least two trade unions.
That means without the backing of one of the major unions, a candidate will likely have to go the much more arduous route of sewing up a raft of endorsements from local parties in order to stand a chance.
While Ms Nandy’s hopes of making it through to the third and final stage of the battle, it looks increasingly difficult for Ms Thornberry and Ms Phillips to make it.
Ms Phillips today uses an op-ed in the Independent to try to win over moderate Labour activists with a positive message on immigration.
She said Labour needed to ‘bust’ the ‘most pernicious myth… that working-class communities are hostile to immigration’.
She said this belief ‘leads to political arm-wrestling between the left and right over who can sound the toughest on immigration.’
She then added: ‘Why, when we’re asked whether immigration is too high, do Labour politicians so often fumble their response? Let’s say what we think: no, it isn’t.’
The Birmingham Yardley MP then challenged all Labour members to ‘come together to create policies that both reflect our shared humanity and work in practice’.
‘That starts by saying immigration is great, and ends with a Labour government that enacts our values,’ she said.
Ms Thornberry today tried to win support by suggesting she would be the Labour leadership candidate which Mr Johnson would least like to face.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: ‘It is an advantage to be a woman leader at this time because I think Boris Johnson has a woman problem, most definitely.
Sir Keir Starmer is the first Labour leadership candidate to make it onto the final ballot paper after he won the endorsement of the Usdaw union
Lisa Nandy is the favourite to win the endorsement of the GMB union. If she does not secure it her hopes of getting onto the final ballot appear slim
‘He certainly has a problem with me. I think the Labour Party should think about that.’
Ms Thornberry declined to say who she would vote for out of Sir Keir and Ms Long-Bailey should she fail to make the final shortlist.
‘I’m not getting into this,’ she told GMB. ‘I’m in this to win it.’
Sir Keir last night cemented his place on the ballot paper as he picked up the backing of the Usdaw union.
The union’s general secretary Paddy Lillis said its members ‘desperately need Labour in power’ as they also backed Angela Rayner for deputy.
Sir Keir has already been backed by Unison and environmental group Sera, which means he now through to the final vote.
Candidates who do secure the required support will be put to a ballot of party members between February 21 and April 2.
The winner of the contest is due to be announced at a special event on April 4.