Friday, 24 Jan 2020

Emily Thornberry faces desperate scramble for support as Labour leadership deadline looms

The Labour Party’s MPs and MEPs have until 2.30pm on Monday to decide who to nominate for the leadership race. They will also have to choose who they would like to see as deputy leader ahead of a mass ballot of the party’s membership next month. Four of the six candidates for leader already have enough nominations to make it to the next stage of the contest.

They are Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips.

However, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis are still frantically lobbying undecided colleagues to help get them over the line.

Ms Thornberry gave hopeful interviews over the weekend, despite online having 10 declared nominations with just hours till the deadline.

Candidates need the support of at least 22 Labour MPs or MEPs to make it to the next round of the race.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said she was “fairly confident” she would reach the required numbers.

She told BBC’s Andrew Marr her campaign had been a “slow starter”.

The MP for Islington South and Finsbury added: “As long as I don’t get any slippage I’ll be fine, I’ll get across the line.”

Ms Thornberry insisted she had spoken to plenty of colleagues who were planning to vote for her on their return to Westminster.

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She told BBC Radio 5: “So long as no train lines go down or anything like that, I think I’ll be alright.

“I’m going to get over the line.”

Ms Thornberry was unimpressed the bookies’ favourite to win the contest is Keir Starmer.

She told Politico’s London Playbook: “As this contest began I think there was an argument that after such a long time, why does the Labour Party not select a Labour woman.

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“I mean there are many of us, we’re the majority in the Parliamentary Labour Party, we have a pretty dominant position within local parties up and down the country, and there are a large number of councillors.

“It would be great if we had a woman leader.”

Ms Long-Bailey told Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday she had distanced herself from being the “continuity candidate” due to her support for outgoing leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The shadow business secretary, who already has 26 nominations, said: “It annoys me when people say that. I am a person in my own right.

“I would describe myself as a socialist and I supported Jeremy from the start because he believed in many of the same things that I did, as many people within our party do.

“What we need to do now is stop labelling ourselves as Corbynites, as socialists, or whatever.

“We are in the Labour Party. We need to unite and build a programme that can win.”

The ballot for Labour’s new leader will open on February 21.

Results of the election will be announced on April 4.

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