Emily Thornberry vows to seize empty homes in bid to tackle housing crisis

Emily Thornberry has vowed to seize empty homes in a bid to tackle the housing crisis if she becomes Labour leader.

The shadow foreign secretary said people who do not use flats would lose them if they cannot justify leaving the property vacant.

Speaking on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire, she said: “If you leave a flat empty and you’re not using it then you will lose it…

“They would need to justify why it’s been empty for the amount of time that it has.

“But if you’re leaving a flat empty for years – which if you go down the Thames, there are all of these developments, all of these big blocks of flats and you go down there at night – none of them have got the lights on. They are all empty.”

Asked if she would take private properties off people, Ms Thornberry replied: “Yes. Because they are not being used and because we have a housing crisis.

“We’ve got people sleeping on the streets, we’ve got homeless families in bed and breakfasts – it’s not right.”

The shadow cabinet minister said she owns three houses – including one she bought for her mother, and another that her brother lives in, as well as her own home.

Labour’s election manifesto included a pledge to give councils new powers to “bring empty homes back into use by raising council tax on properties that have been empty for more than a year”.

Ms Thornberry also denied being a “snob” when she was asked about her controversial 2014 tweet showing a terraced house with England flags and a white van parked outside during the interview.

“Of course I’m not a snob… I think that the thing that really upset me about it more than anything else was that I was asked to resign, so I did, and I was asked not to say anything, and so I didn’t.

“And so everybody put their own interpretations on what it was. It’s so far away from who I am it really upsets me, the idea that I was kind of sneering.

“Because my sister is a bus driver, my brother worked as a builder. I come from a council estate – of course I’m not a snob.”

The frontbencher is the only one of the four candidates yet to make it on to the ballot paper in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Her rivals – Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy – have all received the required support to make it through to the final stage of the contest.

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