Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has confirmed that she hopes to be a Labour leadership candidate – becoming the first of the runners and riders to unequivocally declare a bid.
In an exclusive Guardian article, the Islington South and Finsbury MP has written that “when the Labour leadership contest begins, whoever is standing – and I hope to be one of the candidates – the first question shouldn’t be about their position on Brexit, or where they live in our country”.
She added: “The first question should instead be: what’s your plan for taking on Johnson over the next five years? And do you have the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party, rebuild our machine, gain the trust of the public, give hope to our declining towns and smaller cities, and never again waste the opportunity to take back power?”
Thornberry made clear in the comment piece that she argued against backing a December general election, noting that when she “spoke forcefully against an election, some colleagues nodded along, but the loudest voices were pro-leave colleagues insisting that we should vote with Johnson”.
She also revealed that she “wrote to the leader’s office warning it would be “an act of catastrophic political folly” to vote for the election” and explained her reasoning to Jeremy Corbyn’s team.
“Instead, I said we should insist on a referendum on his proposed deal, to get the issue of Brexit out of the way before any general election,” Thornberry’s article reads.
It was widely expected that Thornberry would become one of the shadow cabinet members aspiring to take on the top leadership role – particularly after she threatened to sue former Labour MP Caroline Flint for “making shit up” about her.
Keir Starmer, a fellow frontbencher and neighbouring MP, has now confirmed to the Guardian that he is “seriously considering” a bid. Lisa Nandy, Clive Lewis, David Lammy and Jess Phillips have also said publicly that they are thinking about running to replace Corbyn.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, a strong ally of the current Labour leader, has not yet issued a statement about the race but is considered to be a frontrunner. She has already received backing from Corbynites including Richard Burgon, who is considering a run for deputy leader.