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Eagle challenges Corbyn for leadership of Labour Party

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LONDON (Reuters) - Labour MP Angela Eagle launched her bid to take over the leadership of the party on Monday, saying current leader Jeremy Corbyn was not up to the task of defeating the ruling Conservatives.

The challenge marks the latest in a struggle for control of Britain’s second-largest political party triggered by the June 23 vote to leave the European Union - which many in Labour have blamed on Corbyn, saying he didn’t campaign hard enough.

The outcome of the leadership contest, seen as a battle between the party’s hard left and more moderate factions, will define Labour’s voice in the negotiations to set the terms of Britain’s EU exit.

“Today I am announcing my decision to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party,” said Eagle. “I am a practical socialist driven by a strong set of values who wants to get things done.”

The party’s general secretary later confirmed the leadership contest had officially been triggered and said the timetable would be set out after a meeting of Labour’s national executive committee.

The contest, in which Corbyn has said he will stand again, comes amid calls for a fresh national election as the Conservatives prepare to appoint a successor to Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We alone can hold this right wing Tory (Conservative)government to account and then replace it by winning a general election,” Eagle said. “Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership this huge task needs.”

Corbyn was chosen as Labour leader last year on a wave of support from the party’s most left-wing activists. But he has clashed with its MPs who overwhelmingly passed a no-confidence motion in his leadership.

Corbyn’s support among the party’s ordinary members, who will elect the party’s next leader, remains strong, leading some MPs and commentators to speculate the leadership contest may split the party.

Additional reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Karin Strohecker,; editing by Stephen Addison