Labour MP David Lammy has said on Saturday he will not be running for the position of the party leader, saying he is not the person "best suited" for the role at this time.
While talking to the Independent Mr Lammy said that he believed he would struggle to win back Leave voters who shifted away from Labour in the December general election due to his opposition to Brexit, and is therefore not best place to take on the role of unifying the party and its base.
“I believe Brexit is an historic mistake, which is why I voted against Article 50 and was the first MP to call for a referendum on any Brexit deal" he said.
He went on to say that he deplores "the rising xenophobia" and "populist nationalism" emerged in the wake of the 2016 European Union referendum.
“I am emboldened by the many people who share my view and have been humbled by the many members of the Labour Party and the wider British public who, over the past weeks, have sent messages, emails and tweets encouraging me to stand as a candidate to be the next Labour leader".
He continued: “A key role for the next Labour leader is to win support from and foster unity between different vociferous factions of our party, so that we can win back the trust of our country. I am not the individual best placed for this role at this time".
The Tottenham MP said he would now scout the potential leaders and support a candidate who he believes is the most capable of bringing unity to the party ranks.
In December, Mr Lammy suggested he may run for the top position saying he should “be part of the heavy lifting to get this party back into power” and would “think seriously” about a bid for the leadership over the Christmas period.
The former minister has been a prominent and vocal opponent of Brexit, calling for the referendum result to be revoked in parliament just two days after the 2016 referendum and has since been an adamant supporter of a second referendum.
The Labour Party entered into the 2019 general election having shifted in favour of offering a second vote on EU membership and saw serious losses in Brexit voting areas in the north of England, including long-time held seats like Bolsover and Grimsby.
Mr Lammy was found to be fourth most popular choice for leader among general voters in a BMG poll for the Indepndent last month, just behind shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, and backbenchers Yvette Cooper and newly-announced Jess Phillips.
Another poll conducted by YouGov, which did not include Lammy, found that Sir Keir leads significantly among Labour members, with 36% of the party backing him as their top choice, which puts him considerably ahead of shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey in second place with 22%.
— YouGov (@YouGov) January 2, 2020
While serving as shadow Brexit secretary under Corbyn, Sir Keir is largely considered from the moderate or "centrist" wing of the party and currently has serving advisors from the Owen Smith 2016 leadership campaign.
Rebecca Long Bailey conversely, is seen as an heir to Corbyn and comes from the left of the party.
Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will lead Labour until a successor has been selected via a leadership vote of party members.
The upcoming leadership election will determine the direction of the Labour Party post-Corbyn. With some prominent figures and candidates like Jess Phillips blaming the defeat on the left-wing shift in recent years and others like Long Bailey wanting to maintain the direction taken by Corbyn and the current leadership.