Emily Thornberry usually takes over the opposition's lectern whenever Jeremy Corbyn is away from the Commons in the event of Prime Minister's Questions. But in a twist to custom, the Labour leader charged shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey to debate with David Lidington, the Prime Minister's de facto deputy. Both Mr Corbyn and Theresa May gave their weekly spar a miss to attend the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Addressing Mrs Thornberry, relegated to the side of the frontbench, Mr Lidington said: "I feel slightly sorry for the Right Honourable Lady, the member for Islington South, who I’m used to jousting with, who seems to have been dispatched to internal exile somewhere else on the frontbench.
"The Honourable Lady perhaps needs to watch out because there’s a lesson there that anybody who at the dispatch box outshines the dear leader risks being airbrushed out of the Politburo history at the earliest opportunity."
The jibe caused jeering on the Commons' benches but failed to spark a reaction from Ms Long-Bailey, who dismissed the comment saying: "He's full of the banter today."
While the "exile" from the dispatch box gave rise to speculation about a break between Mrs Thornberry and the Labour leader, a Labour spokesperson insisted Mr Corbyn wanted to provide all members of his team the chance to take the lead.
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