Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry could be demoted from her position in a shadow cabinet reshuffle after she openly criticised Labour’s position on Brexit.
Immediately after the close of polls of the European elections, Thornberry surprised some in her party by delivering a blunt assessment of the party’s performance during the campaign before all of the results had been counted.
She told the BBC: “We were not clear on the one thing people wanted to hear. We should have said that any Brexit deal should be put to a confirmatory referendum. And that Labour would have campaigned to remain.”
While some in the party have shifted on their second referendum stance, Jeremy Corbyn has not, and those in the leader’s office are said to have been deeply dissatisified with the shadow foreign secretary’s remarks. According to the Telegraph, friends of the Labour leader say he has held discussions about replacing Thornberry with Diane Abbott, the current shadow home secretary, but she has so far resisted the move.
It comes days after she was replaced by business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey at Prime Minister’s Questions as Jeremy Corbyn’s stand-in, despite Thornberry still being present in the Houses of Parliament.
It led to Theresa May’s PMQs replacement David Lidington joking at the despatch box she was in “internal exile”.
A source told the Telegraph: “There has been talk about it. They are quite p****d off with her.
“Outside of London, there are quite a number of party members who are furious with her because it’s having an effect on our voters, her behaviour.”
They added: “She’s actually gone further than Keir, who has pushed the boundaries but has more or less stayed within the elastic of that you’re allowed.”
A shadow cabinet source told the Guardian: “They are very angry with Emily and are out to get Tom. “That has been incredibly obvious over recent days.”
One within Jeremy Corbyn’s office told the newspaper that “all sorts of mischievous rumours” being put about – but did not deny or confirm the story.