Chuka Umunna pulls out of Labour leadership race

One of the frontrunners to become Labour's new leader has shocked his party after pulling out of the contest just a few days after launching his bid.

Chuka Umunna released a statement today claiming that the "pressure" and "impact on those close to me" had forced him to withdraw.

"I thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring," he said in a statement.

"As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.

"However since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate.

"I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.

"One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and the attention but nothing compares to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one's life.

"Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy.

"I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as I surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid – I fear it was.

"Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid's impact on those close to me."

Umunna appeared for the first time in public with his girlfriend last weekend in advance of his appearance on the Andrew Marr show. 

Shortly afterwards he launched his campaign for leader with a shaky video apparently filmed on a mobile phone. His launch received mixed reviews both in the party and the media. His personal life and background has come under scrutiny from the press in recent days.

His sudden departure is expected to improve the chances of other leading 'Blairite' candidates including Liz Kendall and Mary Creagh.