In Depth

Thornberry's house tweet and five other bizarre resignations

Labour MP Emily Thornberry quits after tweeting picture of a Strood house covered in England flags

Labour MP Emily Thornberry has resigned from the party's front bench after tweeting an image of a house covered in England flags during the Rochester and Strood by-election. Critics claim the image, captioned with the line "Image from Rochester", shows she is a snob. The Guardian goes so far as to say that it might be "the most devastating message Labour has managed to deliver in the past four years".

Thornberry, who has previously tweeted other images of houses while doorstepping around the country, insists she did not meant to cause any offence. She says she had never seen a house where people could not see out of their windows because of England flags, even when she lived on a council estate as a child, and said she simply wanted to show her followers a picture from around Rochester.

Nevertheless, with just six months to go until the next election, Miliband was apparently furious and Thornberry has handed in her resignation.

Here are five more unusual resignations from British MPs:

Gerry Adams and men in tights

Gerry Adams attempted to resign as MP for West Belfast in 2011 but was told he was "not allowed" until he applied for a position under the British Crown. "Under parliamentary rules dating back to 1624, an MP who wants to quit has to apply for one of a number of obscure, paid Crown posts: Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham or Steward of the Manor of Northstead," explained The Guardian. A Sinn Féin spokesman made an official statement to say that they "couldn't give a toss" about the rules and the outdated offices were just "strange men who parade around in tights". There was more confusion as David Cameron announced that Adams had become a Baron of the Manor of Northstead, while Adams said he had not been consulted and added: "I am sure the burghers of that manor are as bemused as me."

Tom Watson and his post-grunge pointers

Labour MP Tom Watson resigned from the shadow cabinet last year with a bizarre resignation letter penned to Ed Miliband. He told the party leader he was proud of his "Buddha-like qualities" but said he no longer felt needed in the shadow cabinet, before advising Ed to go to rock festivals like Glastonbury and listen to an obscure "post-grunge" punk band. "John Humphrys asked me why you were not at Glastonbury this weekend," he wrote. "I said Labour leaders can't be seen standing in muddy fields listening to bands. And then I thought how terribly sad that this is true. So: be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge."

Louise Mensch and her husband's blunder

Louise Mensch's marriage appeared to suffer a communications breakdown after she quit as a Tory MP in 2012. Mensch took to Twitter to verify her reasons for resigning after her American music manager husband Peter told the Sunday Times she had quit because she thought she would "get killed at the next election". Mensch insisted she had no such fears of defeat as she wasn't even planning to stand for election in Corby in 2015 and confirmed that she had resigned to move to America to hold her family life together. Her husband later tried to make amends, tweeting "This is why I don't do politics. Stick to music", while Mensch said she was thinking of "creative ways" for him to make it up to her.

Brooks Newmark and his paisley pyjamas

Brooks Newmark, a married father of five, stepped down as minister for civil society this year after exchanging x-rated photographs with an undercover reporter posing as a young Tory PR girl called Sophie. He admitted he had been a "complete fool" for initiating a private message conversation online and taking part in flirtatious chats and photo exchanges. But the part that seemed to capture the media's imagination was the fact that he sent a graphic snap exposing himself while dressed in a pair of paisley pyjamas.

Harold Wilson and his mysterious resignation

Harold Wilson suddenly announced his resignation as prime minister in 1976, prompting a slew of theories about why he was standing down. Some claimed he was a Soviet spy, while several insiders said this was propaganda made up by members of the civil service as part of a counter-espionage plot to force his resignation. A 2006 BBC documentary, The Plot Against Harold Wilson, claimed that the military was on the point of launching a coup d'état against him in 1974, while an ITV1 documentary later claimed that Wilson was aware of his oncoming Alzheimer's disease and wanted to quit while he was still on top.

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