Labour's Emily Thornberry denies calling Leave voters 'stupid'

15 December 2019, 15:11

Caroline Flint and Emily Tornberry
Caroline Flint and Emily Tornberry. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Senior Labour figure Emily Thornberry has denied calling voters "stupid" as infighting broke out amid a race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is believed to be eyeing a shot at taking over the top job from her ally, accused a colleague of sharing a "total and utter lie" on Sunday.

Ex-Labour MP Caroline Flint accused Emily Thornberry of calling a colleague's Leave-voting constituents "stupid".

Ms Flint told Sky's Sophie Ridge on Sunday that Ms Thornberry told another Labour MP: "I'm glad my constituents aren't as stupid as yours."

She also spoke about who she would want to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, saying it cannot be "anybody who has had a hand in our Brexit strategy over the last few years".

"And I don't think it can be Corbyn without a beard, I think that would be the wrong move as well," she added.

Ms Flint said she was trying to "stem my anger" as she criticised "ardent Remainers" within the party.

Ms Thornberry, who has been tipped to throw her hat into the ring for the Labour leadership, has vehemently denied the claim as "a total and utter lie".

Taking to Twitter, she wrote: "I’ve never said that to anyone, nor anything like it, nor would I ever think it.

"I once told Michael Fallon: ‘You can’t just go round making things up.’

"Whatever our differences, let’s not sink into that gutter."

Ms Flint also said the "only candidates worth looking at" are Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The former Labour minister, who lost her seat in the former stronghold of Don Valley in the election, directly named Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper for having "contributed to sacrificing 59 seats".

She continued: “I don’t believe anybody who have been the architects of our European policy in the last few years, I think is credible to be leader, I don’t think they can win back these seats.

“And we may not, I’m afraid to say.“We shouldn’t take it for granted that a change of leader is going to win us the seats back in five years time if that’s when the election is called.

“But I don’t believe there’s any credibility for these people. 

“And, you know, Keir Starmer lead us to a policy that did not listen to Labour Leave voices who urged caution. 

“He led us down the path of a second referendum.

“And I’m afraid Emily Thornberry did as well, she said to one of my colleagues ‘I’m glad my constituents aren’t stupid is yours’. 

“Sorry, it’s not acceptable.”

The comments come after both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell apologised to Labour supporters for their election defeat, in which the party suffered its worst result since 1935.