The shadow foreign secretary insisted the UK could not leave the EU “in current circumstances”, as she set out what the party’s election strategy would be.
“In our manifesto we should say we will abide by the result of the referendum, we cannot obviously leave in current circumstances, we need to extend Article 50 and – let me preempt your next question – I don’t know how long that would take,” she told a conference fringe meeting.
Labour would then “turn up in Europe and say ‘the grown ups have turned up now. Let’s sit down and talk’.”
Ms Thornberry defended Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy of pressing for a general election, rather than a fresh referendum on Brexit, insisting that was the best way to “inject democracy” into the controversy.
And she said: “I think there’s going to be a general election and I think we are going to win.”
The shadow foreign secretary also cast huge doubt on whether a further referendum offering the public the chance to stay in the EU would produce a different result.
Voters were “dug in” to their positions in the 2016 referendum, rather than switching to the Remain cause – as might be expected with the government’s strategy floundering.
And she blamed hardcore Remainers for that deadlock, by giving the impression that Leave voters “are stupid, they are reckless, they have been lied to, or been manipulated”.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.