Union boss McCluskey backs Emily Thornberry as next Labour leader

Catherine Neilan
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Could Thornberry be Labour's first female leader? (Source: Getty)

Unite union boss Len McCluskey is backing Emily Thornberry to become the next Labour leader, making her the first woman to run the 117-year-old party.

McCluskey revealed his preferences for the shadow foreign secretary, who has won praise during her appearances standing in for current leader Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs, at a recent private meeting, HuffPostUK reports.

McCluskey was not suggesting she oust Corbyn, but rather that she would be a "unifying figure" who could continue the Islington North MP's work when he does step down.

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

The Islington South MP is seen as a way to "dilute" the influence of shadow deputy leader Tom Watson, who has spectacularly fallen out with McCluskey in recent years.

In 2014, Thornberry resigned from Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet after tweeting a sneering post about a white van in Rochester.

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