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Blair 'backs Chuka Umunna as next Labour leader'

HEIR APPARENT: Chuka Umunna

FRIENDS OF former Prime Minister Tony Blair have revealed he is backing Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader should Ed Milliband fail to win at the 2015 general election.

Umunna, the MP for south London constituency Streatham, has risen to prominence in his political career since assuming the role of shadow business secretary.

Despite being described as the ‘natural heir to Blair’ the MP has firmly maintained his priority is to serve alongside current Labour leader Ed Milliband.

A friend of Umunna said last night: "Chuka was one of the first MPs to back Ed Miliband's leadership campaign in 2010 and is fully focused on Labour winning next year and putting Ed into No 10. His feet are firmly on the ground and he doesn't get distracted by stories like this.”

The MP of Nigerian and Irish descent allegedly caught the attention of Blair in recent times with his public defense of the benefits of immigration in response to the Ukip surge.

The two are said to be in agreement over a number of public issues and regularly keep in contact.

His close ties with New Labour pioneer Blair is further bolstered by his relationship with other New Labour veterans, including Lord Mandelson, Tessa Jowell and Lord Adonis.

In the event that Miliband fails to secure the party a victory next May, several Labour frontbenchers will be readying their campaigns, as the leadership will be available.

Writing in The New York Times last week, Blair criticised the number of "career politicians" saying that many had very little experiences outside of politics.

"At the very time when leadership is needed, the gene pool of political leaders has shrunk," he wrote. "How many leaders and, for that matter, followers in a parliament or congress have real-life experience in responsible positions outside of politics?”

His comments have been received by many as an underhand swipe at Miliband, who worked as a special adviser to Gordon Brown, while Umunna was in law before being elected in 2010.

According to The Independent, in a recent Survation poll, Umunna peaked ahead of Labour rivals Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham as the favourite for Labour leadership.

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