Labour plunged into internal fighting today following the party’s heavy election defeat after shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry filed legal action against former MP Caroline Flint.
Flint, who lost her her Don Valley seat on Thursday after holding it for 22 years, claimed yesterday that Thornberry had called her constituents “stupid” for voting to leave the EU.
The Islington South MP denied the claim and said today that she had filed legal action, assumedly for libel.
Speaking to Sky News, Thornberry said: “People can slag me off.
“As long as it’s true, I’ll take it on the chin, but they can’t make up s**t about me and if they do I’ll have to take it to the courts.
“I have no idea what’s in her head, all I can tell you is you can’t go on television, make up s**t and not expected to be taken to the courts.
“And that’s what I’m going to do.”
Speaking to ITV today, Flint said she stood by her claims and confirmed that legal proceedings had been brought against her.
Flint sparked the row after blaming Thornberry and shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer for strongly pushing the party to endorse a second EU referendum.
The party’s stance on Brexit is considered one factor in its landslide loss last week, its worst since 1935.
Flint’s constituency, Don Valley, voted Leave in the 2016 referendum, while Thornberry’s Islington South was a Remain stronghold.
Flint said: “[Emily Thornberry] said to one of my colleagues, ‘I am glad my constituents are not as stupid as yours’.
“I am sorry, that is not acceptable.”
The drama comes as Labour MPs being to turn on each other in an opening divide within the party.
Those on the controlling left faction of the party are lining up to try and hold onto control of the party.
Meanwhile, moderates such as Jess Phillips have begun a campaign drive to try and get centrist former Labour members to rejoin the party.