Jeremy Hunt and Emily Thornberry trade bizarre ‘Lassie' jibes in Brexit debate clash

Posted On: 
11th January 2019

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has clashed with his Labour counterpart over the plot of 1943 film Lassie Come Home, in a bizarre Commons Brexit exchange.

Jeremy Hunt, Lassie and Emily Thornberry
Credit: 
PA

The top Cabinet minister told MPs debating Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement that the film’s titular canine star had escaped her owners “without any kind of referendum”.

Mr Hunt was responding to a dig at his own policy from Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary.

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The Labour frontbencher pointed out that ‘The Invisible Chain’ - a phrase used by Mr Hunt to describe Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy - was also the Spanish title of Lassie Come Home.

She told MPs: “It’s no wonder the Foreign Secretary’s vision of the invisible chain has been so enthusiastically embraced by his dog-loving Cabinet colleagues.

“The Health Secretary with his invisible green paper on social care, the Transport Secretary with his invisible ferries and his invisible traffic jams, and, of course, the Prime Minister running around Europe obtaining invisible concessions on Brexit.”

But the Foreign Secretary hit back by declaring the classic as one of his “favourite childhood films” - and making a direct link between the dog’s adventures and Britain’s quest to quit the EU.

He said: “Lassie, of course, in that story was given to a member of the aristocracy - in fact the Duke of Rudling - but Lassie wasn’t happy and she broke free without any kind of referendum and she came home.

“There is a lesson for all of us.”

The bizarre exchange came as the Foreign Secretary rounded off the third day of a five-day Commons debate on Britain’s impending exit from the European Union - the second such exercise after the Prime Minister pulled a pre-Christmas vote on her agreement.

Britain is currently due to leave the European Union in just 77 days.