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Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said the general election would allow Jeremy Corbyn and Labour to get policies across to the public.

“We have six weeks and what we are positive about is that we are now going to get a proper hearing,” she told the BBC Today programme. Labour go into the election 20 points behind the Conservatives in the polls.

But already divisions within the party are emerging. Ms Thornberry, a close ally of the embattled Labour leader, appeared at odds with the party’s economics spokesman. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on Wednesday that those earning £70,000 and over would face higher taxes under Labour

But Ms Thornberry said:

There are many people on £70,000 who may feel that their circumstances are such that they’re not rich and I understand that. But they’re certainly on a higher income – it’s only a matter of maths isn’t it – than those on £26,000.

She said the details of Labour’s tax plans would be made clear in the manifesto but she said the party aim was “making things right, and making our society fairer, and that is not about picking off people at particular incomes”.

In a speech later today Mr Corbyn will criticise bad business practices, singling out Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, and Philip Green, the retailer at the heart of the BHS scandal.

Theresa May, the prime minister, yesterday signalled the Conservatives’ ambitions while campaigning in the marginal Labour seat of Bolton in the north west.

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