A Labour front bench MP has resigned after she apologised for tweeting a photo of a house in Rochester adorned with three England flags, which saw her accused of holding working class voters in “contempt”.
In a statement released by the party she said she did not want the incident to distract from Labour's chances of winning the 2015 General Election.
Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury in north London and now former Labour shadow attorney general, was on the campaign trail in Rochester today.
At around 3pm, she tweeted a photo of a two-storey house with a white Transit van parked outside and three St George flags hanging from its window, alongside the caption “image from #Rochester”.
Thornberry, who lives in a £3million home in London, later told The Telegraph she posted the photo because she thought it was "remarkable" as she had never seen a house "completely covered in flags before".
Users of the social media website were quick to point out that the image may have been ill-judged, and made her appear out-of-touch with voters at a time when Labour is attempting to battle against Ukip in the town. Others defended the MP, and said her post may have been misconstrued.
What's that sound? It's every Labour Parliamentary Candidate in the country facepalming. Henceforth called "The Thornberry Reaction"— Martin White (@martinwwhite72) November 20, 2014
Emily Thornberry should just say I thought it was great to see such a display of patriotism. Lot of inference of what she meant.— Lewis James Brown (@LewisJamesBrown) November 20, 2014
Three hours later she apologised, after Ed Miliband intervened and the Labour leader made it “very clear” that he believes people should be able to fly the England flag without feeling ashamed.
Following her resignation, Labour has revealed that Thornberry had spoken to Mr Miliband a second time.
"Ed and Emily had a second conversation. She thought the right thing to do was to resign. Ed agreed," the source said.
I apologise for any offence caused by the 3 flag picture. People should fly the England flag with pride!— Emily Thornberry MP (@EmilyThornberry) November 20, 2014
"I apologise for any offence caused by the 3 flag picture. People should fly the England flag with pride!" she wrote.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, told Mail Online: "Everyone will know exactly what she meant by that comment. I think she was being derogatory and dismissive of the people. We all know what she was trying to imply.
"I’ve talked about this previously. It’s like the Labour party has been hijacked by the north London liberal elite and it’s comments like that which reinforce that view."
Mrs Thornberry told The Telegraph: ”My point is that it's a remarkable image of a house completely covered in flags. I grew up on a council estate and I have never seen a house completely covered in flags before. There's three of them.“
Announcing her resignation on Thursday evening, she said: "Earlier today I sent a tweet which has caused offence to some people.
"That was never my intention and I have apologised.
In pictures: Rochester by-election
In pictures: Rochester by-election
1/15 Rochester by-election
Counting gets under way for the Rochester and Strood constituency by-election held at Medway Park, Gillingham, Kent
2/15 Rochester by-election
Nigel Farage and members of the UKIP team celebrate after Mark Reckless won the Rochester and Strood by-election at Medway Park, Gillingham near Rochester, Kent
3/15 Rochester by-election
Howling Laud Hope, leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party (R) awaits for the by election results in Medway, Gillingham Rochester, Kent
4/15 Rochester by-election
Kelly Tolhurst, the Conservative Party's candidate in the Rochester's by-election, walks down the town's high street on polling day, in southern England
5/15 Rochester by-election
Gulpreet Baines (18) sets fire to a United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) rosette, on polling day in Rochester's by-election
6/15 Rochester by-election
Naushabah Khan, Labour Candidate for the Rochester and Strood by-election is joined by shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher in Rochester on the final day of campaigning ahead of by-election
7/15 Rochester by-election
UKIP supporter Graham Harper and his dog Roquie carry a electoral poster supporting UK Independence Party (UKIP) parliamentary candidate Mark Reckless in Rochester, Kent ahead of the by-election poll
8/15 Rochester by-election
A customer poll of sweets purchased in favour of the party's contesting the Rochester and Strood by-elecction on display in the Sweet Expectations Sweet Shop in Rochester, Kent, on the final day of campaigning before the by-election later this week
9/15 Rochester by-election
David Cameron and Conservative Party candidate for Rochester and Strood, Kelly Tolhurst, talk to Mick Parks, Workshop Foreman at MCL Mechanical near Rochester, Kent, southern England, during a visit ahead of the by-election
10/15 Rochester by-election
People stand holding placards against the Britain First party who held a march in Rochester, southeastern England
11/15 Rochester by-election
Britain First march through Rochester
12/15 Rochester by-election
UKIP parliamentary candidate Mark Reckless campaigns in Rochester on November 4, 2014
Rob Stothard/Getty Images
13/15 Rochester by-election
Ed Miliband campaigns with Yvette Cooper (left) and Naushabah Khan before the Rochester and Strood by-election
Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images
14/15 Rochester by-election
The Britain First march was met by vociferous counter protest
15/15 Rochester by-election
A UKIP office in Rochester. Rochester and Strood will hold a by-election on November 20th following the defection of Conservative Party Member of Parliament, Mark Reckless to UKIP
Rob Stothard/Getty Images
"However I will not let anything distract from Labour's chance to win the coming general election.
"I have therefore tonight told Ed Miliband I will resign from the shadow cabinet."
A Labour source said before she stepped down: "It is fair to say he made his view very clear that people should fly the England flag with pride."
Thornberry has not yet responded to a request for a comment from The Independent.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content