Chuka Umunna, the favorite with bookmakers to be the next leader of the opposition Labour Party, withdrew from the contest just three days after announcing his candidacy, citing the “pressure” of being in the running.
“I thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring,” Umunna said in a statement Friday. “I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate. I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.”
He posted a full statement on his personal Twitter account:
Umunna, 36, was the second lawmaker to announce he wanted to replace Ed Miliband, who resigned as leader following Labour’s defeat in the May 7 general election. He posted a video on his Facebook page on Tuesday, saying he thought Labour could win back office in five years under his leadership.
“I know this will come as a surprise to many, but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid -- I fear it was,” he said in his statement. “Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me.”
Ummuna, who didn’t give further details, said he wants to continue in his role as business spokesman for the party, a position he has held since October 2011.
Four other candidates have put their names forward for the contest, which is scheduled to finish with the announcement of a new leader on Sept. 12. Health spokespeople Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall, home-affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper and international-development spokeswoman Mary Creagh have all announced they want the top job and education spokesman Tristram Hunt has said he is considering a bid.
Bookmaker Paddy Power installed Burnham and Cooper as the new joint favorites to win the leadership, offering 2 pounds for every 1 pound wagered, indicating a 33 percent chance. Kendall is at odds of 3-1, with Hunt at 9-1 and Creagh at 10-1.
Full statement from Chuka Umunna:
"Shortly before the election campaign, I made the decision, in the event that Labour was defeated and a new Leader was to be elected, to stand for the leadership of the party if there was a desire in the party for me to do so.
"I dearly hoped Labour would win the election and it was a decision I would not have to implement.
"I also thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring.
"As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.
"However since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate.
"I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.
"One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and the attention but nothing compares to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one's life.
"Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy.
"I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as I surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid - I fear it was.
"Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid's impact on those close to me.
"I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories. I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial. Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love - the Streatham parliamentary constituency."