Labour leadership rivals have stressed the need to win back voters’ trust in the wake of the party’s catastrophic election defeat.
Those vying to succeed Jeremy Corbyn have been setting out their pitches for the top job, even before the race is officially launched.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, who became the fifth candidate to enter the race this weekend, said the public had “lost confidence and trust” in Labour.
Sir Keir, the current frontrunner, also said the argument over leaving the EU was now over and the focus needed to be on the UK’s future relationship with Brussels.
He has faced criticism with the party because of his vocal backing for a second referendum, with some blaming him for his part in the party’s worst general election defeat since 1935.
Sir Keir told Sky News: “At the last election for a variety of reasons, the public lost confidence and trust in the Labour Party as force for good and a force for change and we have got to restore that.”
He added: “So far as Brexit is concerned, we are leaving the EU in the next few weeks and therefore the argument about leave and remain goes with it.
“We need to focus now on what’s the right relationship with the EU going forward and I think it should be a close relationship.
“And equally what are the tests and the framework for any future trade agreements with other countries, such as America.”
Prominent backbencher and would-be party leader Jess Phillips argued Labour needed “to get the country to trust us again”.
Setting out her stall, she told Sky News: “We need someone who can take on Boris Johnson, who can stand up against his lies and can be trusted by the public and can reach and talk to the public so we can win another election.
“I think I am the best person… to be able to connect with people so that they can trust that the Labour Party can make their lives better and that’s what we failed to do.
“That is our only job, to get the country to trust us again so that we can govern and make people’ lives better.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Phillips also said she would “wait and see” how Brexit turns out, but hinted a return to the EU would be possible under her leadership.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who declared she would stand on Friday, said the main factor in Labour’s failure was trust and blamed Mr Corbyn for failing to acknowledge the power of the prime minister’s Brexit message.
“Trust – trust was the issue, not the radicalism, not the deeper fundamental change we were promising, but trust,” she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
She added: “What we hadn’t understood is that ‘take back control’ resonated like no other slogan in my lifetime
“Why did it resonate? Because people lack the means to affect change in their own lives.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the “dreadful” electoral result was partly because the manifesto “just wasn’t convincing because their was too much in it”.
“In the end, we can say until we are blue in the face that there is another way- and there is – but we won’t get the opportunity to serve if people don’t believe us,” she told Ridge.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is the current leadership’s favoured candidate, is widely expected to enter the race but is yet to declare.
Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis has already thrown his hat into the ring.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee will meet on Monday to set the timetable for the contest, which is expected to formally start on Tuesday.
The new leader is expected to be in place by the end of March.