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Emily Thornberry on EU election results: Islington heard 'loud and clear' on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 14:40 28 May 2019

Emily Thornberry MP. Picture: Polly Hancock

Emily Thornberry MP. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Emily Thornberry says Islington's electorate has been heard "loud and clear" following Labour's loss to the Lib Dems in the European elections - and she's "glad" Jeremy Corbyn now backs her position on a second referendum.

Emily Thornberry MP at her constituancy office in Barnsbury Street. Picture: Polly HancockEmily Thornberry MP at her constituancy office in Barnsbury Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Alarm bells are ringing in Mr Corbyn and Ms Thornberry's constituencies after a dire set of national results were compounded by a loss on home turf, where the Lib Dems took 29.8 per cent of the vote to Labour's 28.5pc.

But, while the Islington South MP is adamant there should be a so called final say referendum on any Brexit deal, she attests last week's vote was a "single issue" contest and voters will stay loyal to Labour at the next general election.

"The people of Islington sent a strong message in these elections," the shadow foreign secretary told the Gazette today. "And it is one that I have long been arguing myself: that we need to go back to the British people and give them the final say on whether we leave the EU on the terms proposed, or whether we remain.

"That message has been heard loud and clear in the wake of last week's vote, and I am glad that Jeremy and others have now joined me in agreeing that we must have that confirmatory referendum, and that Labour must campaign to remain."

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During the campaign, Ms Thornberry said lifelong Labour voters told her on the doorstep they'd still back the party in a general election, but felt this was there opportunity to protest Labour's "lack of clarity" on Brexit.

Nationally, the Brexit Party and Lib Dems, parties with clear Leave and Remain positions, respectively, stormed it, with the former winning 29 seats and the latter returning 16 MEPs.

But Ms Thornberry believes Labour is "finally providing the clarity [voters] rightly deserve", after the Labour leader and Islington North veteran Mr Corbyn backed a public vote on any Brexit agreement - with the usual caveat of an election being the preferred option.

"The people of Islington have long memories," added Ms Thornberry. "They remember how the Lib Dems cosied up to David Cameron and George Osborne in 2010, how they ditched their promises on tuition fees, and how they conspired with the Tories to wreak the devastation of austerity.

"And they will remember too how a Lib Dem-led council in Islington shamefully sold off land all across our borough for private development instead of using it to build the social housing that we so desperately need, which is why the Lib Dems now have not a single councillor in Islington.

"Last week was a single-issue election, and Labour was punished for not having a clear enough message on that issue. We do now, and come the general election, we will not just campaign wholeheartedly for that second referendum, but for an end to austerity, for investment in our public services, and for a fairer Britain with an economy that works for everyone.

"That is the Britain Labour has always fought for as a party. That was the Britain the Lib Dems betrayed when they had their only shot at government. And come the general election, I know what the people of Islington will choose."

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