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Tue, 22 September 2020

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Emily Thornberry to take legal action against Caroline Flint over claim she called Leave voters ‘stupid'

Emily Thornberry to take legal action against Caroline Flint over claim she called Leave voters ‘stupid'
2 min read

Labour's Emily Thornberry has said she is taking legal action against former MP Caroline Flint over claims she called Brexit supporters "stupid".

In an extraordinary row, the Shadow Foreign Secretary accused the ex-Don Valley MP of trying to "make up s*** about me".

Ms Flint, who lost her heavily-Leave backing seat in Thursday's election defeat for Labour, on Sunday claimed that Ms Thornberry told a colleague in a pro-Brexit seat: "I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours.”

She made the comments while accusing several pro-Remain Labour frontbenchers of “contributing” to Labour’s crushing defeat on Thursday.

It is now understood that Ms Thornberry contacted Ms Flint yesterday, giving her a day to retract the comment, and has now instructed lawyers after no retraction was made. 

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Ms Thornberry said: "I've contacted her and I've said to her, please withdraw, I'll give you until the end of the day. And she hasn't. So I've had to go to solicitors.

"People can slag me off, as long as it's true, I can take it on the chin. But they can't make up s*** about me - and if they do, I have to take it to the courts.

"It's ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. I have better things to think about than people going on television and making up s***. I have no idea what's in her head.”

Ms Thornberry added: "All I can tell you is that you can't go on national television and make up s*** and not expect to be taken to the courts and that's what I'm afraid I'm having to do."

The row comes after Labour suffered its worst defeat since the 1930s, losing 59 seats - many of which had been held by the party for decades. 

Ms Thornberry is among MPs expected to put their name forward to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is set to step down next year.

Lisa Nandy, who revealed this weekend that she is "seriously considering" a run for the Labour leadership, meanwhile resisted calls to wade into the row between two "friends of mine".

She told the BBC: "I could pick a side and get stuck in or I could just ring them both up and say can we all work together please? We've got bigger things at stake.

"And actually, having known Caroline and Emily for ten years now, I like and respect them both: I'm fairly sure they would respond to that."


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