James Forsyth James Forsyth

Emily Thornberry resigns over Rochester Tweet

Emily Thornberry has resigned from the shadow Cabinet for sending a Tweet that appeared to mock a Rochester voter who was flying several St George’s Cross from their window and had a white van parked outside. Thornberry’s resignation follows Miliband aides briefing that the leader was the angriest they’d ever seen him after being told about the tweet. All this shows just how sensitive Labour is to the charge that it is now a party run by a metropolitan elite who have little connection with the party’s traditional working class base.

I suspect that if Miliband had not had the last few weeks that he has, Thornberry would have been allowed to try and ride out this storm. But Labour clearly feel that they have try and close this story down as quickly as possible.

But Thornberry quitting means that Labour, and its expected poor performance in tonight’s Rochester and Strood by-election, will be a major party of the story tomorrow; thwarting the party’s plan to benefit from Ukip taking another seat off the Tories.

UPDAE: Here is Thornberry’s resignation statement:

‘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.’

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