Rebecca Long-Bailey has hinted that she took cannabis during a trip to Amsterdam as she prepares to formally launch her Labour leadership bid this evening.
Ms Long-Bailey was asked during an interview with the Politics Joe website if she had ‘ever taken illegal drugs’.
She replied: ‘Oh. Well, I’ve been to Amsterdam. That’s all I will say.’
The Dutch city is famous around the world for its cannabis cafe culture.
Her comments came ahead of her campaign launch, with Ms Long-Bailey due to kickstart her bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn at an event this evening.
She is expected to use her leadership launch to take a swipe at rival Sir Keir Starmer with a vow to end the ‘gentlemen’s club’ at Westminster.
Ms Long-Bailey cemented her status as the hard-Left’s candidate yesterday when she was endorsed by the Momentum group.
She and Sir Keir currently appear to be the favourites, with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry – who is also kicking off her campaign today – Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and Birmingham Yardley’s Jess Phillips making up the rest of the field.
However, there is a long way to go until the result is declared in April 4.
Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey are the favourites in the Labour leadership battle
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is also launching her leadership bid today
In a speech in Manchester tonight, Ms Long-Bailey will vow to ‘shake up’ the way government works and put power into the hands of voters.
Ms Long-Bailey will promise to end the ‘gentlemen’s club of politics’ by devolving power out of Westminster, while pledging to introduce a ‘Green New Deal’ that unites Labour heartlands.
‘Where I grew up, Westminster, even London, felt like a million miles away,’ she will say.
The docker’s daughter aiming for Labour’s top job
Ms Long-Bailey, 40, is the hard-Left daughter of a Salford docker, groomed to take the helm of the Corbynite project by self-declared Marxist John McDonnell.
She grew up in Old Trafford, Manchester, where she was exposed to left-wing politics from a young age.
Her father Jimmy worked as a docker at Salford Quays and trade union representative at Shell at a time when workers’ collectives wielded enormous power and threats of staff walkouts struck fear into ministers.
On graduating from a Catholic high school, she worked in a pawn shop – an eye-opening experience which she says taught her ‘more about the struggles of life than any degree or qualification ever could’.
After holding down other jobs such as a call-centre operator, a furniture factory worker and a postwoman, she eventually studied to become a solicitor.
‘The story of the last few years is that many people feel there is something wrong with their laws being drafted hundreds of miles away by a distant and largely unaccountable bureaucratic elite in Brussels.
‘But I’ll be honest, Westminster didn’t feel much closer, and it still doesn’t today.
‘That’s why I want to shake up the way Government works and deliver a clear message to voters: we will put power where it belongs – in your hands.
‘The British state needs a seismic shock, to prise it open at all levels to the people – their knowledge, their skills, their demands.’
Ms Long-Bailey will say ‘proper democracy’ takes power away from the ‘offshore bank account and places it on the ballot paper, so workers can have more and chief executives less, and we can tackle the climate crisis with a Green New Deal that unites all of Labour’s heartlands’.
‘We will end the gentlemen’s club of politics and we will be setting out plans to go further by devolving power out of Westminster to a regional and local level.’
Ms Long-Bailey scored a significant boost in her quest to lead the party after securing the backing of the Momentum campaign group yesterday.
Meanwhile, Ms Thornberry will launch her bid in her hometown of Guildford this afternoon, after she narrowly secured the necessary support from MPs to enter the race on Monday.
She will warn that Labour faces ‘a long, tough road back to power’ after the party suffered its worst general election defeat since 1935.
‘In my 42 years as a member of the Labour Party, there is no fight or campaign our movement has waged where I have not been on the frontline.
The successor to Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in the Commons this week) is due to be announced on April 4
‘And since coming to Parliament 15 years ago, I’ve also been on the frontline in the fights against climate change, Universal Credit, and anti-abortion laws in Northern Ireland.
‘I’ve led the charge as shadow foreign secretary against Donald Trump and the war in Yemen. And in the two years I shadowed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, I showed him up every time for the lying, reckless charlatan that he is.’
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner was also endorsed as deputy leader following the confirmatory ballot of Momentum members.
Meanwhile, the party said that around 14,700 people applied to register as temporary Labour supporters to vote in the leadership contest.
The 48-hour window to apply to be a temporary supporter closed at 5pm yesterday, and applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be able to vote in the leader and deputy leader elections.