Emily Thornberry hits out at 'virtue-signalling' Chuka Umunna after single market vote

Posted On: 
1st July 2017

Emily Thornberry has accused Chuka Umunna of “virtue-signalling” for forcing a Commons vote calling for UK to remain part of the single market.

Chuka Umunna is the former shadow business secretary
PA Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sacked three frontbenchers for rebelling against the party and supporting Mr Umunna’s amendment the Queen's Speech, while another shadow minister quit beforehand.

In total, 49 Labour MPs defied the leadership and voted in favour of Mr Umunna’s motion on Thursday.

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Ms Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, criticised the Labour MP and said he had been “silly” to put forward an amendment that put on show the party’s divide over the European Union.

“I don’t really understand it: I think there’s a little bit of virtue-signalling,” she told the Guardian.

“Chuka and me really don’t have a great deal of difference between us, and I think what’s unfortunate about what happened yesterday was that at a time when we could be exposing the differences in the Tory party, it was felt appropriate to have a vote on the single market…

“The last thing we want is for there to be faux battles that are not necessary, really. It’s silly when it might boil down to so little.”

Mr Corbyn had told Labour MPs to abstain on the vote, but dozens of them – including frontbenchers Catherine West, Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter – rebelled and supported Mr Umunna.

The amendment was defeated by 322 to 101 in the Commons.