Emily Thornberry stands down over flag tweet

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DAVID Cameron has accused Labour of sneering at patriotic working people as the row over a controversial tweet of a house in Rochester posted by one of Ed Miliband’s closest allies showed no sign of abating.

Emily Thornberry was forced to quit as shadow attorney general on Thursday after her picture of a house draped in England flags with a white van parked outside with the message “Image from Rochester” provoked a storm of protest.

Picture: Twitter @EmilyThornberry

Picture: Twitter @EmilyThornberry

Her actions - which led to furious accusations of snobbery - were said to have enraged Mr Miliband, provoking a rash of damaging headlines just as the media spotlight was turning to the Conservatives’ defeat in the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Mr Cameron was quick to capitalise on Labour’s discomfort - saying it was another example of how out of touch the party was with ordinary voters.

“Emily Thornberry is one of Ed Miliband’s closest allies and aides,” he said.

“Effectively what this means is that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party sneers at people who work hard, who are patriotic and who love their country, and I think that is absolutely appalling.”

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who saw his party gain its second by-election victory in six weeks, said Ms Thornberry clearly “looked down her nose” at working people.

“I don’t think that traditional Labour voters look at the current Labour leadership and even recognise these people as members of their own tribe,” he told LBC radio.

Leaving her constituency home in an affluent part of Islington, north London, Ms Thornberry again apologised for any offence she had caused.

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“It appears that I got it wrong. I made a mistake. I have resigned. If I have upset anyone or insulted anybody, I apologise,” she told waiting reporters.

However in the hours following her resignation, she “favourited” a series of tweets lamenting her departure from the Labour front bench.

One said it was all a “storm in a teacup”, another complained that she was the victim of a “febrile and stupid media climate” while a third said that Mr Miliband’s office had “let the Tories off the hook”.

Among Labour MPs, there was anger at the damage her comments had caused.

Backbencher John Mann told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was horrendous. It insults people like me, it insults the people I know - my friends and family - Labour voters across the country because white vans, England flags, they’re Labour values and actually pretty routine Labour values for most of us.”

However he welcomed the speed with which Mr Miliband had acted to remove her from the shadow cabinet.

“I think this is a different approach from the Labour leader and his message came out very, very clearly last night and she’s had to go, she’s been forced out,” he said.

Ms Thornberry, 54, entered Parliament as MP for Islington South and Finsbury in 2005 and served as shadow energy and health spokeswoman before taking the role of shadow attorney general in 2011.

The daughter of a former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, she was born in Surrey and was called to the bar in 1983, specialising in criminal law.

As the storm broke, she claimed to be mystified as to why her positing caused such outrage.

“It was a house covered in British flags. I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she told the Mail Online website.

“It had three huge flags covering the whole house. I thought it was remarkable. I’ve never seen a house completely covered in flags.”

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