UK Politics

Labour leadership: Emily Thornberry says she is 'squeezed' in race

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Media captionEmily Thornberry: "We would be more credible"

Emily Thornberry says she is being "squeezed" in the Labour leadership race by two "monolithic" campaigns, but says she brings "depth of experience".

She said some saw the race as being between Rebecca Long-Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer, but added that the members should have the widest choice.

Labour will be "more professional" under her leadership, she added.

The shadow foreign secretary is the only hopeful not to have the required support to make the final ballot yet.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and shadow business secretary Mrs Long-Bailey have reached the threshold to be included on the members' ballot.

They needed the support of 5% of local parties or at least three affiliates - two must be unions - by 14 February. So far, Ms Thornberry has the backing of a handful of local parties and no affiliates.

When asked by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg why she was behind in terms of nominations from local parties, Ms Thornberry said the contest had "ended up with two slightly monolithic campaigns" from Mrs Long-Bailey and Sir Keir.

"One is perceived as being on the left, with the support of Momentum and all the data that obviously Momentum has," she said, referring to Mrs Long-Bailey.

"And the other one therefore by comparison is seen as the right or the centre ground."

She said it was "not for the leaders take us to the left or to the right" but the new leader should "take us forward, we need to have the best candidate".

"And so, to a certain extent it is a good old fashioned squeeze between these two big, you know, campaigns, with all the data and everything else, and it's quite difficult in the middle of that," she said.

"But what I want to do is to break this and to get onto the ticket."

She added: "We should have everybody on the ticket, so that the members can make the decision."

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Media captionFour candidates remain in the race for the Labour leadership

Ms Thornberry said that under her leadership Labour will be "more professional", adding: "We will be more believable, we will be more credible and people would say: 'Oh, thank goodness the Labour Party's back'.

"You know: 'We can vote for the Labour Party now, because the Labour Party hasn't fundamentally changed, but at least we can believe that they will do the things that they say they're going to do'," she said.

She said a "leap of credibility" was "really important", adding that the party "kind of lost our way before Jeremy was elected as leader".

"I think that what I bring to this is a depth of experience, particularly on foreign affairs and on security matters," Ms Thornberry said.

"I think that I raise everyone else's game."

She has done seven front bench jobs, she added.

"I've been in Parliament for 15 years, I was born in the Labour Party, I will die in the Labour Party," she said.

'Terrible tactical errors'

Mr Corbyn announced he would be standing down after Labour suffered its worst defeat, in terms of seats, since 1935 in December's election.

On the election, Ms Thornberry said there were some "terrible tactical errors".

She said the party should have "stood [our] ground" in order to get a further referendum on Brexit ahead of any general election.

"Our problem was that they [the Conservatives] had 'get Brexit done', and they wanted to have basically a referendum wrapped up as a general election so they weren't held to be accountable for anything that they've done," she said.

"We weren't able to talk about other policies, we had about three and a half paragraphs in terms of what our Brexit policy was, and then we tried to change the subject and we weren't able to."

On her life outside the Labour Party, Ms Thornberry said: "I quite often take a weekend off and go away with my other half, and we go to particularly sort of English towns where we've never been before.

"And we stay in the local hotel we go to the municipal museum, we look at kind of quirky things, we go walking, we go visit a local country house.

"We just spend time with one another and remind one another, how we fell in love in the first place."

She said she "probably" had some Tory friends, adding: "Particularly members of my husband's family I think are definitely Tories."

"But, but I've never kissed a Tory in that way," she joked. "That will be true to say."

Laura Kuenssberg has already interviewed Sir Keir and Mrs Long-Bailey and is aiming to interview Ms Nandy in the coming weeks.

The new leader will be announced on 4 April.

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