Owen Smith announces his Labour leadership challenge

His opponents in the party, who want him gone as leader, had argued that under party rules he needed to be nominated by 51 Labour MPs and MEPs to stand again.

Hartlepool's grassroots Labour members feel betrayed by the revolt against Jeremy Corbyn, says a local party chief.

Corbyn said he was "delighted" at the result of the secret vote, which backed him by 18 votes to 14, and emerged triumphant from the talks to cheers from supporters.

It ruled that union members will not be able to vote in the party's leadership contest unless they joined before January 12, bringing them into line with rules on people who had previously joined as full members.

He said the leadership campaign, in which he would fight "on all the things that matter", from inequality and poverty to improving opportunities, would strengthen Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn refused the offer of resignation from a number of his own whips today, after they informed him of their intention to nominate other candidates in the Labour leadership contest.

The ruling will come as a major blow to Labour MPs desperate to overthrow their leader and will fuel warnings that the party is heading for a split.

He said he expected no legal challenge to the decision and that the timetable for the election would be set by the NEC.

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This week, former shadow cabinet members Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have both announced that they will take on the Islington MP in a bid to become Labour's new leader.

Earlier this year, Foster attacked the beleaguered party leader for downplaying alleged anti-Semitism within the party.

He said he was sure Labour MPs "will understand that the party has to come together.to present to the British people the options of a different and better way of doing things". "I have been elected 10 months ago with a very large mandate".

"I think we are fine", he added.

The leadership contest was triggered on Monday when lawmaker Angela Eagle challenged Mr Corbyn.

The Bolton South East member was one of just 40 MPs to back Mr Corbyn in a recent no-confidence vote, which he heavily lost.

Paul Stuart, co-vice chairman of the Wallasey Constituency Labour Party, said Eagle was "disgusted" and "deeply concerned".

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