Thornberry Row: PM Attacks 'Sneering' Labour

Thornberry Row: PM Attacks 'Sneering' Labour

Ed Miliband has spoken of his anger after one of his closest allies was forced to resign over a controversial tweet.

Emily Thornberry resigned from her post as shadow attorney general after provoking a Twitter backlash while campaigning in Rochester.

The Islington South and Finsbury MP posted a picture of a house draped with three England flags with a white van parked in the drive during a by-election visit to the Kent constituency. It was captioned "Image from Rochester".

Political opponents and some Twitter users accused her of looking down on the occupants of the house.

One critic tweeted: "How out of touch are you? And you wonder why no one wants to vote for you and your vacuum-packed lefty snobs."

Another wrote: "Somebody flies England flags and drives a van? And Labour wonder why the working class are deserting them en-masse..."

Ed Miliband said Ms Thornberry had to go because her tweet seemed disrespectful towards the homeowner and gave the impression that it was wrong to fly an English flag.

He said: "That is not my view, that is not Labour’s view, that will never be Labour’s view."

The owner of the £175,000 house, father-of-four Dan Ware, told the Sun: "I've not got a clue who she is - but she's a snob. We put the flags up for the World Cup.

"They'll stay up until they fall down and then I'll put new ones up."

David Cameron said the episode had shown that Labour "sneers" at hard-working people.

The Prime Minister said: "Emily Thornberry is one of Ed Miliband's closest allies and aides. 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."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage asked: "What is Labour's Emily Thornberry trying to imply about Rochester and Strood? I suspect she's let Miliband's mask slip."

Speaking outside her home in Islington, North London - said to be worth £3m - on Friday morning, she said: "I got it wrong. I made a mistake. I've resigned.

"And if I've upset anyone or insulted anybody, I apologise."

But she was more defiant on Twitter, favouriting a number of supportive tweets, including one from a user who said: "Personally am ashamed 2 b English in these dark times & we need people like U 2 put things right."

Commenting on Ms Thornberry's decision to quit, Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam tweeted: "This is not shooting yourself in the foot... This is amputating your leg because you lightly stubbed your toe. Extraordinary."

Labour revealed that Ms Thornberry had spoken to Mr Miliband a second time after making an initial apology.

Mr Miliband was reported to have "never been so angry" as when he gave her a dressing down.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told Sky News: "Ed, as I understand it, made clear in no uncertain terms his own feelings on that tweet."

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.