Rebecca Long-Bailey says she would give Jeremy Corbyn a job in her Cabinet if she becomes prime minister, it has been reported.
The Labour leadership candidate and shadow business secretary, who has backed herself to win the race to replace Corbyn at the head of the party, reportedly said: “I love him so.”
The Sun on Sunday reported that Long-Bailey told supporters in Lewisham, south London, that she would find room in her Cabinet for Corbyn if she gets into Number 10.
She was criticised last month when she rated Corbyn’s leadership as “10 out of 10” despite the party’s disastrous general election showing in December.
The Sun on Sunday said that when asked earlier this month if she would give Corbyn a job in government if she becomes prime minister, the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles replied: “I’d like to but I don’t know whether he wants to do it because he said not.”
She added: “It’s up to him. I love him so.”
Her comments follow those of deputy leader candidate Richard Burgon, who suggested Corbyn could serve as shadow foreign secretary.
Burgon told the Huffington Post: “I’ve never met a more principled, less egotistical person than Jeremy Corbyn and plenty of his critics are not fit to lace his boots.”
Long-Bailey is currently battling it out to be the next Labour leader with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
She has been called the “continuity Corbyn” candidate in the leadership contest, which will be resolved in April.
However, she dismissed the term while being interviewed on BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
Long-Bailey said: “Everybody knows what I believe in and I’ll never deviate from that, but I’m very much my own person and to suggest I’m a continuation of any individual is quite disrespectful, not least because I’m a woman.”
The three remaining candidates will enter an online and postal ballot of party members and registered supporters which opens on 24 February.