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Islington MPs Corbyn and Thornberry face tough questions over Trident opposition

PUBLISHED: 09:22 09 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 09 February 2016

Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn

Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is braced for a potentially fiery showdown with his top team over the renewal of Trident.

Islington North MP Mr Corbyn is due to discuss the nuclear deterrent, which he opposes, with his shadow cabinet for the first time when it meets later.

Shadow defence secretary and fellow Islington MP Emily Thornberry, who also favours unilateral disarmament, was branded “waffly and incoherent” after she spoke to MPs and peers about the issue at a meeting last night.

The Islington South and Finsbury MP told the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting she wanted to carry out the ongoing review of Labour policy on Trident in an “atmosphere of mutual trust and respect”.

Hitting back after hostile questions from MPs and peers, Mrs Thornberry said: “There is no point trying to shout me down.”

MPs told reporters outside the room afterwards she had compared the Trident system to the Second World War Spitfire planes.

But a senior Labour source insisted she had been trying to suggest some military technology should be replaced, like Spitfires, while others could be updated, like Tornadoes.

The source said Mrs Thornberry had also raised doubts about whether submarines were a safe way to carry the nuclear deterrent.

“She was talking to some people about drones and it was apparent it was absolutely possible that large submarines could be tracked and attacked by drones,” the source added.

Interventions were “evenly” split between speakers who wanted to renew Trident, those who did not think it was a “binary choice”, and those who opposed renewal, according to the source.

Quizzed on how it had gone as she left the meeting, Mrs Thornberry said: “All right.”

When former leader Lord Kinnock was asked for his verdict on her performance, he replied, “yeah”, then walked away, laughing.

Former shadow defence minister Kevan Jones said Mrs Thornberry had taken questions “but didn’t answer any”, adding: “Waffly and incoherent.”

Mr Corbyn was not present as he was manning a phone bank for Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, but he is expected to attend the next PLP meeting in two weeks’ time.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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