Emily Thornberry outburst after being snubbed for cabinet role by Keir Starmer

Emily Thornberry has said she is “sorry and surprised” in a public outburst after not being appointed to a senior ministerial post by Sir Keir Starmer.

Ms Thornberry, who served as shadow attorney general when Labour was in opposition, is one of the few members of Labour’s top team not to receive the equivalent role in government following the general election.

Instead, barrister Richard Hermer KC was chosen for the brief, which is not a Cabinet role, although he will attend Cabinet meetings.

Mr Hermer will be ennobled, sitting in the House of Lords to fulfil his Government duties.

In a statement shared on X, formerly Twitter, three days after the new Attorney General was appointed, Ms Thornberry shared her disappointment.

She spoke of her record of “eight-and-a-half unbroken years in the shadow cabinet, a longer record of service than anyone else in that time”, and listed her work setting out Labour’s policies on tackling fraud and supporting sexual harassment whistleblowers among her achievements.

Ms Thornberry added: “I am very sorry and surprised not to be able to continue that work in Government, but I wish all my brilliant colleagues well, and I know that Richard Hermer KC – a much more accomplished lawyer than I could ever hope to be – will do an outstanding job as Attorney General.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

“Nothing in the personal disappointment I feel can detract from the amazing and historic victory that all of us in the Labour movement worked together to win last week, and the chance that we now have to change our country for the better.

“I will continue giving my unstinting loyalty to our Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, as he leads that work, as I have done since he became leader, and I look forward to supporting his Government in every way I can in the years to come.”

Ms Thornberry was one of the 36 MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 party leadership race.

She went on to serve in several senior opposition roles when the now-independent MP for Islington North led the Labour Party, including as his effective second-in-command.

Ms Thornberry has had a history of gaffes on the front lines of Labour politics. She has previously apologised after busting herself for speeding, posting a picture of the speedometer in a Toyota Prius she was driving to Labour’s 2022 conference at 81mph.

And she quit the shadow cabinet in 2014 after posting a picture of a house in Rochester, Kent, adorned with England flags and with a large white van parked outside.

Alongside the tweet, sent while canvassing in a 2014 by-election, she said: “Image from Rochester.” She was accused of snobbery by the man whose house she pictured, and former Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “condescending and disrespectful”.