Image copyright PA Image caption Harry Lamb thinks Jon is a good and stable candidate for the party
Senior Labour politician Jon Cruddas has played down a narrative that there is a split between him and opposition candidate Chris Harris.
Mr Cruddas is standing aside to give Mr Harris the chance to run against Theresa May in Stoke-on-Trent Central.
Some reports have suggested Mr Cruddas’ internal support is tepid.
He played down the rumours in an interview with BBC Radio Stoke on Tuesday, saying he’s got no choice but to hand the post to Mr Harris.
Mr Cruddas told Radio Stoke’s SM Radio that he now had a full-time job elsewhere in the constituency.
“I have to step aside,” he said.
“I’m only going to be standing in one constituency seat, the other is an economic development seat so, at the moment, I don’t have the time for that.”
He also defended Mr Harris as “the most competent candidate for the Labour Party at this moment”.
Mr Cruddas added: “I think we’re too busy with a job to do and we’re too busy doing it to fight about other things.
“We’re running a campaign for a General Election for the next four years, it’s a huge, massive job and I think we should let [Mr Harris] get on with it.”
Image copyright Pete Smith Image caption Mr Harris has previously cited the leadership election as a reason he turned down an offer to be minister
Mr Harris’ campaign has already been keen to play down suggestions there is a rift with Mr Cruddas.
Mr Harris, 35, has previously cited the leadership election as a reason he turned down an offer to be minister.
He told BBC Radio Stoke he still had a lot of confidence in Mr Cruddas and they have the “same view on most issues”, although they differed on the decision to stand as leader.
“His view was that we needed to take our chance,” he said.
“I think the party need to keep moving forward.”
In his more than 10 years in parliament, Mr Cruddas has become a highly respected figure in the party, campaigning vigorously to bring changes and modernise the party.
He was a founder member of the latest committee, the parliamentary party steering group, which helped change the party rules to become more modern.