Emily Thornberry declares: "I'm more radical than Jeremy Corbyn"


Emily Thornberry declares she is more radical than Jeremy Corbyn as she outlined a bold plan for housing reform.

The Labour leadership contender’s idea is a lottery in each council area for 20-somethings who want to live in a subsidised block of flats.

Her plan would involve charging tenants up to half their salary – rather than the exorbitant more than two-thirds many are forced to shell out.

Thornberry says that they would have to move out as soon as they turned 30 but it would give them the time to save up for a deposit.

She believes the scheme would “begin to change the conversation”.

“I think if we started building blocks like that you’d start getting people in their 20s actually quite interested in housing policy and local councils and turning up at Town Halls and going ‘that block of flats for 20 year old, it’s full build another one’ and it will be really popular,” she said.


She added: “Youngsters aren’t priority need when it comes to council housing so you can’t get a council house and they can’t afford to buy.

“So they end up in the private rented market and in very many areas, it’s so expensive that they can’t rent a house by themselves and they can’t get the security that they need in order to be able to set up a family.”

She told the Mirror: “Part of the problem when it comes to housing is that people have such a lack of confidence in government they don’t believe that such a major problem can actually be addressed by government – that’s why it’s so important that we put forward real ideas.”

The London MP also vowed a crackdown on empty properties, saying “you use it or you lose it” in a similar way to dormant bank accounts.

There are 650,000 empty households and 220,000 have been empty for more than six months.

She said: “You go down the Thames at night, and you see all these luxury flats and none of them got the lights on and they’re laughing at the people sleeping in doorways.”

Other plans include stopping land banking by developers who sit on plots by helping them to build so long as it’s affordable housing or council housing.

And if they don’t build within five years then it gets taken over by the council.

She said: “We have to be radical and we have to be not afraid.”

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The housing crisis has hit her Islington constituency particularly hard

She said: “People say ‘do you agree with everything in Jeremy’s manifesto’ I say yeah yeah but it is a question of priorities and, you know, and they also say ‘are you in any way more radical than Jeremy?’ maybe I am in some ways and when it comes to housing I am.

“And in my burning desire to sort out social care. I’m probably, you know, quite radical about that too.”

Thornberry, who holds the neighbouring seat to Jeremy Corbyn, has struggled to find her place in the contest with Keir Starmer already occupying a lot of the London Remainer MP’s natural territory.

She said: “People say ‘do you agree with everything in Jeremy’s manifesto’ I say yeah yeah but it is a question of priorities and, you know, and they also say ‘are you in any way more radical than Jeremy?’ maybe I am in some ways and when it comes to housing I am.

“And in my burning desire to sort out social care. I’m probably, you know, quite radical about that too.”


Unlike many Labour politicians Thornberry, who has been an MP since 2005 does not oppose Right to Buy which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher.

“My mum never bought our council house – she didn’t believe in the right to buy,” she said.

“But as I said to her, it’s all very well for you, Mum, is because you got a rich daughter who will buy your flat.”

“We gave our council house back to the council and she felt very strongly that we have been saved by a council house and we wanted to make sure that there was a council house available for another family.

“I think I’d take a slightly different view, which is, I don’t mind people buying their council houses, so long as the money coming from the council houses are then used to build another one, you know like for like, so long as the council’s housing stock doesn’t isn’t depleted what’s the problem?”


The shadow foreign secretary – who is yet to make it on the ballot paper for Labour members – is unlikely to get the trade union backing and instead will be relying on the nominations of local Labour parties.

She described the two frontrunners Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer as “machine politicians” and hinted that her rivals had their minds on the leadership during the elction.

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She admitted: “I’m a bit of a late starter in that I didn’t start my campaign to launch the general election and so I did go from literally a standing start.

“I think the way it’s turning out is that we seem to have kind of sort of two machine, sort of politicians, and, you know, we’ve got one who’s perceived to be on the left and one who’s perhaps perceived to be more on the right, and they had these great monolithic campaigns and, you know, and there’s a bit of a squeeze going on in the middle but in the end, it’s up to the members to decide.”

But despite lagging behind Keir Starmer and Long-Bailey, both Thornberry and underdog Lisa Nandy fared well when Channel Four asked a focus group of former Labour voters who they’d vote for.

Asked why she cuts through she replied: “It’s authenticity. It’s speaking from the heart.

“It’s saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you know, it’s basic really.”


Thornberry has argued against the navel-gazing which the Labour Party often indulges in when a leader quits.

She said: “I don’t think that we need to have some sort of existential crisis about who we are, we all know who we are.

“But what we need to do is we need to do it in a way which is competent and, and so that people believe because it’s all very well are saying there is another way it doesn’t have to be like this.

“But if people don’t believe that we can deliver it. I mean if they say well you can’t even solve anti- Semitism, you know, how can you deliver, you know, hundreds of thousands of homes that we need in this country.”


Asked what Thornberryism means, she said: “What we want is – and I think it’s actually what the British people want is they want Britain to be a place where we look after each other when they are down on their luck.”

Unlike much of the doom and gloom in the party, Thornberry thinks there is a positive future for Labour.

“I think that whoever is the new leader, there will be a huge amount of goodwill towards them.”

Thornberry, who has been critical of people surrounding the leadership, has vowed to have a clear out if she wins.

But she has also said she would end the factionalism that has blighted the party for the last few years.

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“So, you have to have a Shadow Cabinet and front bench which is populated by people who are good.

“And they aren’t there because they’ve come from one particular faction or another particular faction.

Emily Thornberry wants to shake up the housing system

“We need to bring all our talent together and they do them they are lots of different people from all over the country, lots of different types of people. And they come from different wings.

“Because in the end, you know, I mean we may disagree on 5% will we agree on 95%.”

“And it really doesn’t it isn’t necessary. I mean I do I feel I come from the heart of the party I have never been factional, I never would be.

Although she refuses to “promise people jobs” she strongly hinted this could mean her leadership rivals serving alongside her on the frontbench.

“I think that we are quite a team, potentially, and we have a lot to do. And we’ve got to make sure that we use all all of our talents.”

“What happens is that whenever there’s a new leader elected they bring in their own people. And yes, that’s what I would do, too.

“I’m not somebody who briefs, and I don’t leak – the criticisms that I have an accident open.

“People know what it is that I disagree on yeah and I’ve been straight about it. And I will expect people to behave like that when I’m a leader as well. You know, if you’ve got something to say say it to my face.”

Emily Thornberry is seen as an ally of Jeremy Corbyn

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The former lawyer who is known for being outspoken believes she is the best person to take on the Prime Minister as she’s the last one he wants to see.

She said Boris Johnson had a “woman problem” but particularly a problem with her.

She told the Mirror “he used to literally run away” when he had to face her in the Commons.

The MP, who has held seven different jobs, described herself as “battle-hardened” and said that she was not afraid of the scrutiny that comes with being leader of the opposition.

“We’ve had those conversations as a family…but the truth is I’ve had people camped outside my door for days on end, I’ve had it all and the truth is they haven’t got anything – I am a really boring person.”

She has already said she would stand aside if she became a drag on the ticket in the run up to the next general election.

But as Labour faces five years out of office she said laughing: “Basically leader of the opposition is the worst job in the world, that’s, that’s the job of applying for.”





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