POLITICS

Emily Thornberry Resigns From Labour Shadow Cabinet

20/11/2014 22:57 GMT | Updated 21/11/2014 11:59 GMT

A senior Labour MP has resigned from Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet after her tweet of a house draped with England flags caused controversy on the day of the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry was accused of snobbery after posting the picture of the modern terraced house with three red and white Cross of St George flags - one bearing a West Ham United badge - and a white van parked in the drive, along with the message "Image from Rochester".

She apologised after being given a dressing-down by Mr Miliband and Labour later announced that she had resigned as shadow attorney general.

In a statement released by the party, Ms Thornberry said: "Earlier today I sent a tweet which has caused offence to some people.

"That was never my intention and I have apologised.However I will not let anything distract from Labour's chance to win the coming general election. I have therefore tonight told Ed Miliband I will resign from the shadow cabinet."

Ms Thornberry's initial posting sparked a storm on Twitter, with one respondent writing: "How out of touch are you? And you wonder why no one wants to vote for you and your vacuum-packed lefty snobs."

In a message to Ms Thornberry, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "We should have pride in flying the Cross of St George - don't knock the national flag of England."

And Ukip leader Nigel Farage - who is hoping to gain his second elected MP in the Kent constituency - asked: "What is Labour's Emily Thornberry trying to imply about Rochester and Strood? I suspect she's let Miliband's mask slip."

As the storm raged online, Ms Thornberry told the Mail Online website: 'It was a house covered in British flags. I've never seen anything like it before.

'It had three huge flags covering the whole house. I thought it was remarkable. I've never seen a house completely covered in flags."

But as the controversy showed no sign of diminishing, the former barrister was asked to explain herself to Mr Miliband.

A Labour source said: "It is fair to say he made his view very clear that people should fly the England flag with pride."

Ms Thornberry later tweeted: "I apologise for any offence caused by the 3-flag picture. People should fly the England flag with pride!"

Aged 54, Ms Thornberry entered Parliament as MP for Islington South and Finsbury in 2005 and served as shadow energy and health spokeswoman before taking the role of shadow attorney general in 2011.

The daughter of a former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, she was born in Surrey and was called to the bar in 1983, specialising in criminal law.