Caroline Flint refuses to back down in row with Emily Thornberry

Caroline Flint stands by her claim that Emily Thornberry branded northern Brexit voters ‘stupid’ as the shadow foreign secretary ‘consults lawyers’ and Labour infighting hots up in the wake of its election disaster

  • Labour in total meltdown after being put to the sword by Tories in the election
  • Jeremy Corbyn branded ‘in denial’ for claim hard-Left plans were not to blame
  • Caroline Flint accused Emily Thornberry of saying Leave voters were ‘stupid’
  • Ex-minister warned that the next leader cannot be ‘Corbyn without a beard’
  • But furious Mrs Thornberry denied the claim by Ms Flint as a ‘total and utter lie’ 
  • Ex-MP Ms Flint today stood by the comments she made about Ms Thornberry 

Caroline Flint today stood by her claim that Emily Thornberry branded northern Brexit voters ‘stupid’ as Labour tore itself apart in the wake of its disastrous general election. 

Ms Thornberry has angrily denied the accusation and is understood to be consulting lawyers after ex-minister and ousted MP Ms Flint claimed she made the dismissive jibe to a colleague.

But Ms Flint told Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme that she stood by what she said. 

‘I made my comments yesterday,’ Ms Flint said. 

‘I stand by them, but Piers, I may be subject to legal proceedings, so I don’t think I should comment on them any further.’ 

She added: ‘I stand by my comments yesterday but I don’t want to comment any further because there may be legal proceedings but I said what I said and I stand by them.’ 

The bitter spat came as senior figures raged that Jeremy Corbyn is ‘in denial’ for arguing that his leadership and his hard-Left platform was not to blame for Labour’s worst performance at the ballot box since the 1930s.

Instead he said media attacks and Brexit were responsible for the rout and 80-strong Tory majority.

In a brutal verdict on her former colleagues Ms Flint – who was ousted from her Don Valley seat by the Tories – had warned yesterday that the next leader must not be ‘Corbyn without a beard’.

Caroline Flint yesterday claimed Emily Thornberry said northern Brexit voters are ‘stupid’. Today the ex-MP told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme that she stood by the claim after Ms Thornberry furiously denied it 

Emily Thornberry (pictured left with Jeremy Corbyn at the Islington count on Friday morning) issued an angry denial after being accused of swiping that northern Brexit voters are ‘stupid’

Ms Flint – who was ousted from her Don Valley seat in the rout – warned that the next leader cannot be ‘Corbyn without a beard’

Mrs Thornberry angrily denied the allegation from Ms Flint as a ‘total and utter lie’

Shadow minister Clive Lewis posted a message on Twitter today suggesting that voters were responsible for making the wrong decision in the election

The ex-minister insisted no-one who had a hand in the party’s muddled Brexit policy, which called for a renegotiation of the divorce deal followed by a second referendum in which Mr Corbyn would stay neutral, should be in the frame to take charge. 

Naming shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and Mrs Thornberry, who both represent Remain-backing central London seats, she said: ‘Keir Starmer led us to a policy that didn’t listen to Leave voices who urged caution.

‘He led us down the path of a second referendum.’ 

On Mrs Thornberry, Ms Flint said: ‘She said to one of my colleagues, ”I am glad my constituents are not as stupid as yours.”

‘I am sorry, that is not acceptable.’ 

However, Mrs Thornberry flatly denied the claim. 

‘This is a total and utter lie. I have never said this to anyone, nor anything like it, and I hope needless to say, it is not something I would ever think,’ she said. 

She added: ‘Whatever out differences inside Labour, we should not sink into that gutter.’ 

It is understood Mrs Thornberry is consulting lawyers, with sources close to the Islington MP saying that while Ms Flint was ‘very upset’ the allegation was ‘not acceptable’. 

Ms Flint stood by her comments this morning as she said Labour had lost the election because of Mr Corbyn and the party’s Brexit stance. 

She told GMB: ‘In a weird way the 2019 election was almost the election Theresa May wanted in 2017.

‘But I don’t think that if we had solved Brexit that alone would have saved us. 

‘But when you are fighting on two very difficult fronts I think it was very hard for many of us in the midlands and the north and in parts of Wales to fight back.’

Her comments came as potential leadership candidates have started to gear up for a tilt at the party’s top job after Mr Corbyn said he would quit after two successive general election defeats.

Rebecca Long-Bailey has emerged as an early favourite, receiving endorsements from shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon and praise from John McDonnell.

However, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy revealed she is ‘seriously thinking about’ whether to launch a bid – and could be backed by moderates.

‘I am seriously thinking about it,’ she told the BBC’s Andre Marr Show. ‘The reason I am thinking about it is because we have just had the most shattering defeat, where you really felt in towns like mine, that the earth was shaking.’ 

Mr McDonnell apologised for the party’s catastrophic election result, saying ‘I own this disaster’. 

The shadow chancellor said ‘if anyone’s to blame, it’s me, full stop’, but also cited Brexit and the media for having ‘demonised’ the Labour leader ahead of the dismal defeat. 

‘It’s on me, let’s take it on the chin, I own this disaster so I apologise to all those wonderful Labour MPs who have lost their seats and who worked so hard,’ Mr McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.  

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured out for a bike ride in Islington today) has doubled down on his support for Labour’s wildly left-wing policies despite the party’s spectacular election defeat

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said she was ‘seriously thinking about’ running for the Labour leadership

Mr McDonnell predicted the leadership change will take place in eight to 10 weeks, tipping Ms Long-Bailey as having the ability to be ‘a brilliant leader’. 

He also praised shadow cabinet ministers Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler. 

But he made clear he ‘prefers others’ to backbencher Jess Phillips, who has also thrown her hat into the ring. And he dodged saying what he thought of Ms Nandy. 

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has doubled down on his support for Labour’s wildly left-wing policies despite the party’s spectacular election defeat. 

The outgoing opposition leader grudgingly shouldered some personal responsibility for the catastrophic collapse in votes, but used two newspaper columns to pin the blame on Brexit and the media.     

Labour suffered its worst performance at the polls since 1935 after Boris Johnson reduced the party’s Red Wall of traditionally northern strongholds to rubble.

While accepting the result was ‘desperately disappointing’, Mr Corbyn said he was ‘proud’ of the radical anti-rich and spending spree platform he stood on during the campaign.

Insisting his tax-hiking government blueprint was popular, he wrote in the Observer: ‘I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate.

‘But I regret that we did not succeed in converting that into a parliamentary majority for change.’

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