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Emily Thornberry ‘sorry and surprised’ not to be given senior Government post

Former shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry has said she is ‘sorry and surprised’ not to have been appointed to a senior ministerial post in the new Labour Government (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)
Former shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry has said she is ‘sorry and surprised’ not to have been appointed to a senior ministerial post in the new Labour Government (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

Emily Thornberry has said she is “sorry and surprised” not to have been appointed to a senior ministerial post in the new Labour Government.

Ms Thornberry, who served as shadow attorney general when Labour was in opposition, was 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.

“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.

Then-shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walk together after observing a silence to mark Armistice Day outside Islington Town Hall in November 2019
Then-shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walk together after observing a silence to mark Armistice Day outside Islington Town Hall in November 2019 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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.

Sir Keir Starmer insisted Ms Thornberry has a “big part to play” in Labour’s future despite not being offered a ministerial job.

Speaking to reporters in Wales, the Prime Minister said: “I’m putting together a very strong team based on delivering.

“We got a very strong mandate at the general election, a mandate for change, a mandate for doing politics differently, and about service. That’s why I’m putting my team together.

“Emily Thornberry has been fantastic, she’s got a big part to play, as has every single one of my now 412 Labour MPs.

“But it’s very important that we demonstrate the progress we’re making, which is why I’ve been to Scotland, to Northern Ireland, and now to Wales to reset the relations.”