Opposition Labour lawmaker Angela Eagle says she is withdrawing from the race to oust party leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying she would give her support to rival Owen Smith instead in order to boost the chances of a change of leadership.
Labour's left wing and more moderate factions have been locked in a bitter power struggle ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, with critics saying Mr Corbyn had not campaigned hard enough to prevent Brexit.
Ms Eagle on Tuesday said she would withdraw from the leadership contest after receiving less support than Mr Smith, according to tallies at the halfway stage in the nominating process.
"It is in the best interests of the Labour Party that we now come together so we can have one candidate," she told reporters.
Ms Eagle triggered the contest last week after Mr Corbyn failed to resign in the face of a string of resignations from his policy team and an overwhelming vote of no confidence in his leadership by Labour MPs.
Mr Corbyn's rivals are concerned that he cannot win a national election and will not give Labour a strong enough voice in Britain's upcoming Brexit negotiations.
But in refusing to resign Mr Corbyn has cited strong support among grassroots members. He will stand against Mr Smith in a vote of Labour activists and party supporters, with a result due on September 24.
"We have a Labour Party at the moment that is not working, we have got a leader that doesn't have the confidence of his members of parliament and isn't reaching out to the country," Eagle said.
"We need to have a strong and united Labour Party so that we can be a good opposition, take the fight to the Conservative government and heal our country."