Unite boss Len McCluskey 'backs Emily Thornberry as future Labour leader'

Posted On: 
24th August 2017

Trade union heavyweight Len McCluskey reportedly supports Emily Thornberry becoming Labour leader when Jeremy Corbyn steps aside. 

Emily Thornberry speaking in the House of Commons

While the Unite chief strongly backs Mr Corbyn's leadership, he has told confidants that he is in favour of Ms Thornberry taking over when the time comes.

She has been among the leftwinger's most prominent supporters since he became leader in 2015, and has been his constituency neighbour in north London for 12 years.

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HuffPost UK reports that Mr McCluskey, who is a key Labour powerbroker, sees the Shadow Foreign Secretary as a figure who can unite the party once Mr Corbyn departs.

Unite is Labour's biggest financial backer, but also provided crucial campaigning support during the general election, mobilising its 1.2m members to support Mr Corbyn's agenda.

Although trade unions no longer get a block vote in Labour leadership election, Unite's support would be a huge boost to any challenger.

“Len’s admiration for Emily is evident and longstanding," a source told the website. 

"He sees her as a tough cookie who isn’t afraid of taking big decisions.

“Of course, there is no vacancy and there won’t be for the foreseeable future. Len totally backs Jeremy and wants him to be Prime Minister.

“But the next Labour leader after Jeremy has to be a woman and Len believes Emily is a unifying figure.”

A Unite spokesman made clear the general secretary was firmly behind the current Labour leadership, saying:

"Len McCluskey backs one leader of our party and one leader only and that is Jeremy Corbyn.

"Unite's every focus is on getting a Corbyn-led government into Number 10 and seeing the end of this miserable Conservative administration."