Long-Bailey vows to support whoever is elected as Labour leader

Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she would support whoever is elected in the Labour leadership contest should her own campaign fail.

Speaking to an audience of Labour supporters in the function room of a bar in Peterborough, the shadow business secretary said: “Whoever gets elected in this leadership campaign, if it’s not me I’ll support them.

“I might not agree with everything they do and I might speak to them in private and have a go at them for not adopting all of the policies that I want to adopt but I’ll never criticise them in public because that would not get us into a position where we’d ever win a general election.”

The MP for Salford and Eccles has been accused by leadership rival Lisa Nandy of an “attempt to manufacture division where there is none” over a call to back a council house “building boom”.

Labour leadership contest
Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has called for more house building (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Long-Bailey’s team had said ahead of Friday’s campaign stop that she was urging her rivals to back her commitment to build hundreds of thousands of social homes.

Ms Long-Bailey said at the event: “There’s not been a lot of talk about housing in this leadership campaign, sadly.

“But the fact is that we’re in a housing crisis.”

She continued: “One fundamental way to change that, to make housing more affordable both for the private sector and to ensure we’ve got enough supply is to build more council houses, at least 100,000 per year.”

Sir Keir Starmer has already backed a large-scale building programme and Ms Nandy went on to criticise their opponent over the challenge.

Ahead of Ms Long-Bailey’s speech, Ms Nandy said: “This is an attempt to manufacture division where there is none. A decent, affordable home is a human right.

“As Labour leader I would maintain our commitment to a programme of mass council house building and ensuring secure, affordable tenancies for renters.”

The Wigan MP said she backed the last manifesto’s commitment to build 150,000 new council and social homes per year within five years.

But she added: “We need to go further than the manifesto, with a plan to tackle the overheated housing market in London and big cities to balance the economy.”

Labour leadership contest
Sir Keir Starmer indicated he backed the housing commitments in the last manifesto (Jane Barlow/PA)

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir had already said a “new generation of council and social homes in every community” was essential to fixing the housing crisis.

And he signalled he was backing the last manifesto’s housing commitments in winning the backing of the Labour Housing Group affiliated to the party.

Labour members and eligible supporters will begin voting for the new leader and deputy on Monday, with the result to be announced on April 4.

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