Chuka Umunna blasts Emily Thornberry after 'grossly insulting' claim Lib Dems are like the Taliban on Brexit

Posted On: 
20th September 2019

Chuka Umunna has urged Labour's Emily Thornberry to withdraw a "grossly insulting" comparison between the Liberal Democrats and the Taliban.

The former Labour MP hit out at the Shadow Foreign Secretary.

He blasted the Shadow Foreign Secretary for likening his new party to the "murderous" Afghan faction.

Ms Thornberry made the controversial comparison in an interview with The House magazine after the Lib Dems vowed to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit if they form a majority government at the next election.

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She said: "The Lib Dems have gotten kind of Taliban, haven’t they? They’ve said they’re just going to revoke, there’s not going to be another referendum.

"I don’t think it’s very democratic to seek to overturn a referendum without asking the people first. I really think the only democratic way to get through this and to break the logjam is to go back to the people and trust their good sense."

But the comments - made on the eve of the Labour's annual conference in Brighton - prompted an angry response from Mr Umunna, who quit the party earlier this year.

The Streatham MP tweeted: "Emily Thornberry should withdraw her inappropriate remarks. Language counts - comparing the @LibDems to a murderous organision is no laughing matter.

"It is also grossly insulting to over 23,000 of her constituents who signed the parliamentary petition for Article 50 to be revoked."

The row comes after a poll showed that the Lib Dems had pushed Labour into third place after vowing to scrap Brexit.

The latest YouGov survey for The Times put Jo Swinson's party on 23%, up four points on last week.

At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn's official opposition has dropped back two points to 21%.

Labour's conference is expected to be dominated by calls by members for the party to say it will campaign to Remain in any future EU referendum.

Mr Corbyn has said Labour will negotiate its own Brexit deal if it forms the next government, and suggested this week that he would remain neutral in the resulting referendum.

But Ms Thornberry said: "It’s obviously important for us to go back to the membership at a time like this and ask them what’s the best way through.

"I will certainly be putting the case that we should have a referendum, we should give the people a decent choice on leaving the European Union, but that we should campaign to Remain.

"Not everyone agrees with me, so we need to thrash it out. The party has to decide collectively."