BARNSLEY MP Dan Jarvis is ‘thinking long and hard’ on a possible Labour leadership bid but adds he has unfinished business in his current role.
Mr Jarvis, who is also South Yorkshire Mayor, admitted he was torn on whether to stand as the next party leader, and was ‘humbled and flattered’ by the support he has received asking him to go for the top job.
But the Barnsley Central MP said his current role and the ‘responsibility’ he has to get South Yorkshire devolution done meant the decision ‘weighs heavily’ on his mind.
Nominations opened today for candidates to formally declare their intention to run.
Mr Jarvis, who was elected as Sheffield City Region mayor in 2017, said he has received ‘thousands’ of emails from supporters ‘across the country’ from both the left and right wings of the party.
So far, Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Clive Lewis and Rebecca Long-Bailey have put forward their intentions to be leader.
Mr Jarvis said: “I’m listening to what people are saying to me but I am mindful of the fact that I have a unique commitment to South Yorkshire as mayor.
“We’re on the cusp of major investment and we’re in touching distance of really getting going. I don’t take this lightly at all and it weighs heavily on my mind.
“There is a lot of faith and responsibility invested in me to be the person who gets devolution done up and working for us here I can’t afford to fail.
“I’ll make a decision in the near future but I am extremely mindful of the duel commitment and responsibilities I have for South Yorkshire.
“I do take that very, very seriously my mayoralty is a controversial one no one else does it like this.”
Mr Jarvis was asked about the support he’s received so far through direct correspondence and from social media. The Barnsley Central MP has two Twitter accounts dedicated to him urging him to run for leader.
“It’s been incredibly humbling and flattering to have people right across the country get in touch to encourage me to go for it, I’ve had thousands of emails,” he said.
“When you’ve got a significant number of people telling you to do something, you have to think long and hard about it.
“I’ve had support both from the right and the left of the party and from people locally and further afield including those who aren’t directly involved in politics.”
The mayor, who previously said the party needed a ‘clean break from Corbynism’, went on to say Labour needed to return to being an effective opposition before it started thinking about running the country.
He also said there was no guarantee South Yorkshire folk who voted Tory for the first time would come back without a ‘credible national leader’.
“Most sensible people understand you need a decent opposition so it’s in the country’s interest to hold politicians to account. What was the big tragedy from the general election was from talking to lots and lots of people was there wasn’t any great love for Boris Johnson.
“It’s fair to say there is a lot of people in South Yorkshire who lent their votes to the Conservatives. They’re up for grabs next time but it isn’t a given that they’ll come back to us.”
He said the only way to bring them back was through having a credible offer and a credible national leader.
Mr Jarvis accepted that the country was leaving the European Union but feared for the future of the United Kingdom.
The Scottish National Party swept the board north of the border and are calling for a second independence referendum.
“I’m mindful about the extremely challenging time it is for the country we are about to leave the European Union and my approach to that is we have to try and make the most of Brexit. I’ve accepted that we are leaving.
“But from what I am concerned about is despite the fact that we’re leaving the EU, there is a fragility in our union. I don’t want to see the break up of the United Kingdom.
“The party itself faces big challenges. Labour has just been absolutely hammered in the general election and what I want to see is a party that’s looking out to the country and is trusted by people in every corner of the nation.
“We need to get back to being a credible opposition.
“Everyone in the party has to roll up their sleeves and play a part in that process and certainly I’ll be playing my part.
“As for what we do individually and what our contribution will be, these are matters that people are wrestling with and that they are thinking about because these are monumental decisions.”
Provided by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.