‘Zen-like Jeremy Corbyn upset by claims of anti-Semitism,' says Emily Thornberry

Charlotte Edwardes, JOE MURPHY
Crisis: Emily Thornberry defends leader Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn was so “distressed” by accusations that he was anti-Semitic that emotion clouded his response to the political crisis, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry revealed.

In an exclusive interview with the Standard, she said the charge proved “very difficult for Jeremy to deal with” because it went “so against his idea of who he is”.

Ms Thornberry laid into Theresa May for trying to “blackmail” Parliament into supporting her Brexit blueprint.

She said Chequers was “bollocks” and the House of Commons would not be “taken hostage” by threats to crash out of the EU with no deal if MPs refused to back it.

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She said: “If she’s not capable of getting an agreement, I can see no reason why she should hold us hostage or, frankly, Parliament hostage and say, ‘Unless you agree to this we are not going to have a deal.’ If you [Mrs May] can’t govern, let’s have another general election.” In a series of key statements, the former barrister tipped as a future party leader also:

Dismissed the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum as “for the birds”, saying Labour should focus on forcing a general election to put Mr Corbyn in power.

Warned Labour activists against mandatory reselections for MPs in case they damaged the election campaign.

Predicted Labour’s next leader will be a woman but insisted: “It’s a long way off.”

Pledged Labour would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and change the law if necessary to stop such exports.

Revealed she would vote Remain in another EU referendum, but said Labour would honour the Brexit vote because “we don’t double-cross”.

Ms Thornberry said Mr Corbyn was usually “very Zen” about personal criticism and went on: “But calling him an anti-Semite, calling him a racist, that just went straight to the absolute core of him. It really distressed him.”