Emily Thornberry: Labour faces a 'long, tough road back to power' after crushing election defeat
Emily Thornberry will call on Labour members to choose her to lead the party on the "long, tough road back to power".
The Shadow Foreign Secretary will say that last month's "crushing" loss, which saw the Tories claim an 80-seat majority, meant Labour now needs someone "battle-hardened" at the top.
Launching her leadership campaign in her home town of Guildford in Surrey, she will also highight the fact that she is the only candidate who has proved she can take on and beat Boris Johnson in the Commons.
Mr Thornberry's comments are a clear attempt to distinguish herself from her less experienced rivals, none of whom were even elected the last time Labour was in power.
She will say: "I’ve led the charge as Shadow Foreign Secretary against Donald Trump and the war in Yemen. And in the two years I shadowed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, I showed him up every time for the lying, reckless charlatan that he is.
"And I’m standing to lead our party, because I want to be the woman, and I know I can be the woman, who stands up and leads the fightback against Boris Johnson.
"And we’re going to need someone tough, someone resilient, someone experienced and battle-hardened to lead that fight. Because we all know this is going to be a long, tough road back to power after the painful and crushing defeat we suffered last month.
"But we must hold onto our hope, and ask ourselves who is best placed to deliver the dream of turning this great mass movement into a great party of government that will change our country, and through our leadership, change the world?"
Ms Thornberry will say the leadership contest, which runs until 4 April, must not be a fight "between who will take us to the left, or to the centre or to the right".
Instead, she will say, Labour must choose a new leader who has the best chance of leading the party to victory at the next general election.
"Who will stand up and lead the fight? Who will give us strength, experience and passion?," she will say. "Who will give us an unashamedly socialist but deliverable manifesto? Who will win back the
voters we lost in the last two years? And crucially, who will take us to victory and take us back into government?
"And it’s because I believe I have the skills, the values and the vision to achieve all of those goals that I have decided to stand up and fight for the Labour leadership."
Ms Thornberry remains the outsider in the leadership race, with the latest poll of Labour members putting her on just 1%.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, who came top of that Survation survey for Labour List, will also launch her campaign on Friday with a pledge to unleash a "democratic revolution" if she wins.
Ms Long-Bailey, who is the candidate most closely aligned with Jeremy Corbyn, will say: " I want to shake up the way Government works and deliver a clear message to voters: we will put power where it belongs – in your hands. The British state needs a seismic shock, to prise it open at all levels to the people - their knowledge, their skills, their demands.
"Proper democracy takes power away from the offshore bank account and places it on the ballot paper, so workers can have more and chief executives less, and we can tackle the climate crisis with a Green New Deal that unites all of Labour’s heartlands.
"We will end the gentlemen’s club of politics and we will be setting out plans to go further by devolving power out of Westminster to a regional and local level."