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‘This is absolutely shocking!’ Emily Thornberry torn apart by James Cleverly in BBC QT row

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The Shadow International Trade Secretary insisted that while Jeremy Corbyn has “shortcomings”, he would have been a “kind and radical” Prime Minister. But Tory MP James Cleverly described her comments as “absolutely shocking” in a clash on BBC Question Time. Ms Thornberry said: “I’ve known Jeremy for a long time, more than 15 years.

“He’s a neighbouring constituency MP to me and I believe if he has been Prime Minister, he would have been radical, kind, profoundly principled.

“He had shortcomings and one of them was that he allowed his own personal feelings get in the way, he felt he was personally under attack on the issue of anti-Semitism.

“He wasn’t able to step back and take an objective view or it and make proper decisions.

“That was a profound weakness and that’s something he knows.”

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce asked: “Do you think he ever will apologise for what the EHRC called the ‘failures of leadership’?”

Ms Thornberry continued: “I don’t know, I don’t feel it’s right for me to speculate.

“I certainly hope that he does and takes this opportunity to think through but we need to move on and find a solution.”

Mr Cleverly interjected: “That’s absolutely shocking. How much evidence do you need?

“He spent decades associating with 9/11 truthers and Holocaust deniers, the idea that this way somehow too hard to see and that even with the evidence presented by that report you’re still here saying you do not regret trying to install him as Prime Minister, that is genuinely shocking.”

Ms Thornberry responded: “Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life fighting racism in his country and that is what he has done.”

Mr Cleverly claimed he “demonstrably hasn’t”.

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Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to block Mr Corbyn from sitting as a Labour MP despite his readmission as a party member has reignited the civil war on the opposition benches.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said a “politicised” disciplinary process had resulted in Mr Corbyn’s readmittance to the party after his suspension – imposed in the wake of a damning report into the handling of anti-Semitism in Labour – was lifted on Tuesday.

Labour leader Sir Keir said on Wednesday morning that he would not restore the whip, meaning Mr Corbyn will continue to sit as an independent MP and will not be part of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, an ally of Mr Corbyn, questioned whether Sir Keir would ever have been elected leader if members knew how he would act against his predecessor.

She said excluding Mr Corbyn was “wrong” and Sir Keir’s actions were “no way to unite the party”.

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