Thornberry’s Jab at Anonymous Labour “Backroom Briefing”

Fair to say that Emily Thornberry’s not particularly impressed with anonymous “backroom briefing” from Labour spokespeople suggesting that Labour might abstain on the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. “I’m the elected politician, I’m on the record, we’re not going to vote for the Withdrawal Bill if we don’t agree it, and we don’t…” Who could she possibly be thinking of…?

Thornberry: ‘Strong Argument’ for Second Referendum

A masterclass from Emily Thornberry in evading the question. Will Labour be tabling a confidence vote? Will Labour be backing Brexit in a General Election? Will they back a second referendum? We just don’t know, neither does she…

Emily Thorn-Merry at the Despatch Box

Emily Thornberry was having a bit of trouble getting her question out at the Despatch Box earlier. “Everything is so topsy-turvey at the moment!” As Alastair Burt sagely notes, we have all been in her position before…

Labour Voters Unenthusiastic About Leadership Contenders

Labour’s leadership hopefuls have some work to do if they want to establish themselves as successors to Corbyn among the Labour faithful. Polling by the ESRC Party Members Project somewhat surprisingly found Keir Starmer to be the slight favourite among Labour members with 18% support, ahead of John McDonnell on 15% and Emily Thornberry on 12%.

Starmer is hardly the obvious Corbynista choice but with Brexit in the spotlight Starmer’s Remain tendencies are more in tune with the Labour membership than the euroscepticism of the old left. Still a far cry from Boris’s regular double-digit leads among Tory members…

Among Labour voters as a whole, not a single contender breaks into double digits, with “don’t know” polling at a hefty 56%. Starmer is again the best of the bunch on 9% with McDonnell trailing on 5%. Thornberry and Chuka are tied on 3%. Self-promoting Sadiq doesn’t even get a look in – only 1% of Labour members back him and less than 1% of Labour voters at large…

Labour All At Sea Over Brexit

Labour are all at sea over Brexit again, with Keir Starmer directly contracting his party leader’s comments on whether Brexit can be stopped. Starmer told Sky News this morning “Brexit can be stopped” just days after Corbyn categorically told Der Spiegel on Friday that Labour “can’t stop” Brexit:

DS: “If you could stop Brexit, would you?”

JC: “We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave.”

Emily Thornberry and Dianne Abbott have also given conflicting signals in recent days, with Thornberry telling Marr yesterday a second referendum was still an option, while Abbott warned against the idea on Question Time last week. Civil war in North London luvvie land…

Labour’s position on the deal itself is no less unclear, with shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman making distinctly positive noises about the possibility of Labour supporting a deal on All Out Politics despite Thornberry coming down strongly against the prospect yesterday. Labour’s “constructive ambiguity” is increasingly looking less like astute party management and more a symptom of serious internal shadow Cabinet splits…

The Government’s fundamental problem with getting a deal through Parliament – if it even gets through Cabinet – is that voting down the deal is all things to all people. The Labour frontbench sees it as the best route to a general election. Brexiteers see it as the way to force ‘no deal’. Remainers see it as their best chance of securing a second referendum. The Johnson-Johnson pincer movement looks particularly dangerous for the Government. But ultimately only one of these groups can actually get what they want…

Labour ‘Won’t Save the Government’ in Brexit Deal Vote

Emily Thornberry confirmed to Marr this morning that Labour is intent on voting down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in the hope of forcing a general election. The clock is ticking, and as things stand the UK will automatically leave the EU in 138 days.

Thornberry Doesn’t Want That People’s Vote

Emily Thornberry tells Today

“I want a people’s vote but I want it to be a big and proper people’s vote, which is a general election.”

Thornberry: Our Brexit Tests Are Not Silly

Thornberry on Israel

Emily Thornberry tells Labour activists some home truths…

“…we must all acknowledge, that there are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed.”

Thornberry: I Wouldn’t Let a Woman in a Burka Look After My Child

This was Emily Thornberry speaking on Question Time in 2013:

“I wouldn’t want my four year old looked after by somebody wearing a burka. I wouldn’t want my elderly mum looked after by somebody wearing a burka. They need to be able to show their face. I wouldn’t mind if they worked in records in the hospital.”

She says she wouldn’t want a woman wearing a burka to look after her child but they can work in backroom offices. Surely this is far, far worse than Boris’ comments? Where is the outrage, Corbynistas?

Press Gallery Welcomes Thornberry

Banter from the Press Gallery this lunchtime, who are dining with Emily Thornberry. England flags all round. Good to make her feel welcome…

H/T: Picture via Chris Hope

May Outflanks Corbyn From the Left

Have we woken up in opposites world? The Tories have announced an uncosted £20 billion-a-year NHS spending policy funded by vague, mystery tax rises, pledging to outspend Corbyn. Labour are saying that, unlike the government, their own less expensive policy is costed.

Impressive spin operation from Number 10 to get all broadcasters to lead on Brexit dividend line, when the policy is as yet uncosted and most of the money is coming from tax rises they have yet to outline. Not sure Labour would be getting such an easy a ride over a £20 billion a year uncosted policy funded by vague tax rises…

Thornberry Talks Up Assad

Emily Thornberry is rightly under fire for talking up Assad’s popularity in a bizarre interview with Prospect magazine:

“There is an argument that if [President Bashar al-Assad] had been as overwhelmingly unpopular as the rebels told the west at the outset then he wouldn’t be there. I think there has been a depth and a breadth of support for Assad that has been underestimated.”

Prospect were certainly unimpressed, reporting: “Not once in our discussion on Syria is she critical of the Assad regime”. The Shadow Foreign Secretary rather gave the game away later on in the interview:

Assad may not get special blame, but others do. Foreign forces, she says, need to leave. That includes Britain, which is currently taking part in air-strikes against IS. “They’re not fighting for the sake of the Syrian people. Any of them.” She lists the countries involved. “UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Turkey, America, Britain—have I missed anyone?” She has. “Russians!” she adds, quickly.

Grim…

Will the Young Still Grow into Old Tories?

Who Would You NEVER Vote For?

The Centre for Policy Studies is trying to convert the young away from socialism and fix “the urgent need for the Conservative Party to make the case for its values and principles to the younger generation”.  What Guido noticed in their pamphlet was the party people say they would never vote for. No surprises, antipathy to the Tories halves as the decades pass – and the number for whom voting Labour becomes anathema triples. It echoes that ever-contested quote: “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.” Perhaps the age brackets are out of date…

Stephen Bush argued in the New Statesman that “this time it is different” and as people get older their values won’t change, they will basically stay socially liberal and keep voting Labour. An argument that has been made since the 1960s and it still hasn’t stopped the centre-right governing for most of the last half-century in most of the West. He could be right about the future, however it is the populists who are hoovering up support from socially conservative types intolerant of minorities. Conventional centre-right conservative parties are already socially liberal in most Western democracies.

David Aaronovitch, Emily Thornberry and others argue that the “Brexit generation” are dying out. Demographics suggest otherwise, people are living longer and voting for right-of-centre parties for longer. Their numbers will be refreshed, just as they have throughout the last century, as younger Labour voters become parents and homeowners. That is so long as the Tories fix the housing affordability problem…

Thornberry: Labour Want to Remain in THE Customs Union

Emily Thornberry told the Today programme – twice – that Labour wants to stay in the customs union.

“What we want to do, is we want to remain in the customs union. We don’t want any faffing around with any of the nonsense that the government is coming up with in relation to alternatives to the customs union. We want to remain in the customs union.”

This appears to be a radical shift in policy from Labour, who previously said they want to leave the customs union and then join a new customs union after Brexit. Thornberry was clear that Labour now wants to stay in the customs union. Unless she doesn’t understand it?

UPDATE: Clarification of Thornberry comments from Labour source: “Emily agrees with our policy which is to seek to negotiate a comprehensive UK-EU customs union, with the UK having a say over future trade deals and arrangements.” Well, it was early in the morning…

Thornberry Present at Abbas Jew Hate Speech

Emily Thornberry attended the Mahmoud Abbas speech which made global headlines this week for its anti-Semitic content, Guido can reveal. Thornberry was representing Labour at the Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting in Ramallah. The Shadow Foreign Secretary confirmed her attendance in a Facebook post published after Abbas’ speech. Her statement did not reference Abbas’ anti-Semitic comments…

Abbas delivered a rambling speech in which he claimed the Holocaust was not caused by anti-Semitism but by Jewish “social behaviour, [charging] interest, and financial matters.” In highly offensive comments, Abbas said:

“But why did this use to happen… They say, “It is because we are Jews”. I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function. This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.”

Rather than reference the remarks or condemn Abbas in her initial statement, Thornberry instead said:

“While we of course want to see the resumption of meaningful peace talks, I said President Abbas had been quite right to argue that the Trump administration cannot act as a mediator for peace when they themselves are sowing the seeds of discord, and making a negotiated peace ever harder to achieve...”

Now Thornberry has put out another statement:

“It is deeply regrettable that, during a lengthy speech whose main and successful purpose was to urge the Palestinian National Council to remain committed to the Middle East peace process and the objective of a two-state solution, President Abbas made these anti-Semitic remarks about the history of the Jewish community in Europe which were not just grossly offensive, but utterly ignorant. His comments were out of keeping with the tone of the Council as a whole, and of my discussions with other delegates, and I hope President Abbas will immediately apologise for them, so that the message to come out of this important Council meeting can remain positive and progressive, and focused on re-establishing peaceful and constructive dialogue.”

Labour sources are concerned that the Shadow Foreign Secretary did not initially distance herself from the remarks or condemn them. It has been confirmed that she was in the room during the remarks, alongside 80 other international observers. It was a mad three hour speech so perhaps she just wasn’t listening. If Boris did this it would lead Sky News all day…

Thornberry: I Met “Appalling” Labour Anti-Semite in the Street Last Week

Did she get them kicked out of the party?

Thornberry: I Don’t Accept Russia is Blocking Chemical Weapons Inspectors

Thornberry has been listening to Seumas again. The audience wasn’t impressed…

Prosecco Progressives Pay £90 to Hear the Millinery Tendency Leader

Islington South & Finsbury’s Spring fundraising dinner for Emily Thornberry is being held at Frederick’s Restaurant in Islington. The star speaker will be Owen Jones and he will no doubt update the comrades on developments in political millinery. £90 a ticket means it will be for the few even though they are only serving Prosecco to the progressives. Socialist champagne will be extra…

Russian State Media Trumpets Corbyn’s Statement on Spy Poisoning

Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Russia spy poisoning crisis is being used by Putin’s state media to counter the British government’s position. Corbyn’s statement to parliament yesterday is set against Theresa May’s in this write-up by TV Zvezda, a Russian army media outlet run by Putin’s Ministry of Defence:

“Earlier, British Prime Minister Teresa May said that Russia was allegedly involved in the poisoning of Skripal.

[…] Read the rest

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