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Drone strikes backed by shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry

Published 17/01/2016

Emily Thornberry backed using 'whatever means are necessary' to protect Britons
Emily Thornberry backed using 'whatever means are necessary' to protect Britons

Shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry has backed the use of drone strikes - although she declined to comment fully on whether she previously raised concerns.

The Labour frontbencher insisted advice she gave to then leader Ed Miliband when shadow attorney general is "legally privileged", adding she could not talk about it further.

She backed using "whatever means are necessary" to protect Britons, noting this included drone strikes "within the confines of the law".

Asked if she was against drone strikes, Ms Thornberry told BBC1's Sunday Politics show: "No, I'm not. I think in the future the role of drones is likely to increase both undersea and for air strikes."

Pressed if she questioned the legality of drones under international law when shadow attorney general, Ms Thornberry replied: "This is quite difficult because the advice I gave to the leader's office - first of all, you've got that wrong."

Presenter Andrew Neil insisted he was just asking a question.

Ms Thornberry replied: "Yeah okay, all right, no, okay. Well then, how can I answer it because the trouble is it's legally..."

Mr Neil intervened to ask: "Have you questioned the legality or not?"

Ms Thornberry replied: "There's a difference between their use and their existence, so therefore, and I can't, I'm so sorry but it's legally privileged and I can't talk about advice I gave to the leader."

She also noted "I've given enough" as Mr Neil suggested she could talk to voters and outline whether she would support the use of drone strikes.

The Labour frontbencher replied: "I would support the use of whatever means are necessary in order to keep the British people safe."

Asked if this included drone strikes, Ms Thornberry replied: "Within the confines of the law, I would support the use of drone strikes."

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