Emily Thornberry has confirmed she intends to stand for the Labour leadership – and admitted that Jeremy Corbyn agreeing to a general election at a time of Boris Johnson’s choosing was a “catastrophic political folly”.
The shadow foreign secretary said the current leadership’s belief the election could be about anything other than Brexit had been a “total delusion”.
Thornberry, the MP for Islington South, has been one of the most pro-Remain members of the shadow cabinet.
In an article for The Guardian on Wednesday, she rejected suggestions Corbyn’s successor had to come from the north of England and be less pro-EU in order to appeal to voters outside London and the south.
“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 said.
Instead she said party members should pick someone who had the “political nous and strategic vision” to gain the trust of the public and take on the prime minister.
Thornberry said she had “pummelled” Johnson “every week” when she had faced him in the Commons when he had been foreign secretary.
She said Labour’s decision to support the election had been like “crackers voting for Christmas” and it should have got “Brexit out of the way” first.
Her expected entry into the race came after Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, also confirmed he was “seriously considering” running.
The frontrunner in the race is seen to be Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, who has the support of many in the current leadership.
Other potential candidates include Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips.
Yvette Cooper, the former cabinet minister who ran against Corbyn in the 2015 leadership race, also this morning said she might give the leadership another go.
Tony Blair this morning said Labour would be “finished” and replaced by a new political party if it chose a leader who stuck with Corbyn’s politics.
The former Labour prime minister said the party had become “a glorified protest movement with cult trimmings” under Corbyn.