Emily Thornberry’s sneering take on St George’s flag unveiled before England v Scotland

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The world’s oldest international fixture has never felt more alive. This evening, England will face Scotland at Wembley – the 115th edition of a rivalry dating back to 1872. Gareth Southgate’s team have the luxury of home advantage and the comfort created by victory in their first game against Croatia.

Their hope is to win this year’s competition, while Scotland is more concerned about prolonging their stay at a first major finals in 23 years.

Following Monday’s 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic, the Scots will be on the brink of going out if they lose tonight.

With long-standing passions fuelled by England’s desire to maintain the status quo and Scotland seeking fresh validation, the sporting context mirrors political tensions within the UK.

As anticipation grows and national flags fly around the country, unearthed reports shed light on how Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry was forced to resign as Labour front-bencher after she appeared to mock a family’s terrace home draped in England flag.

In 2014, Labour was plunged into crisis on the day of a by-election in Rochester and Strood after Mrs Thornberry, at the time shadow attorney general, tweeted an image of the home accompanied by the caption “image from #Rochester”.

Mrs Thornberry, who lives in a £3million home in Islington, North London, told The Telegraph that she thought that the image was “remarkable” because she had never seen a house “completely covered in flags before”.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was reportedly “angrier than he had ever been”.

Mrs Thornberry’s tweet led to an immediate backlash from the public and even members of her own party, who accused her of being “derogatory and dismissive of people”.

Her attempts to explain her comments only exacerbated the situation.

She told The Telegraph: “My point is that it’s a remarkable image of a house completely covered in flags.

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“I grew up on a council estate and I have never seen a house completely covered in flags before. There’s three of them.”

She then fuelled the anger by claiming that she had been the victim of a “prejudice” against people from Islington, where she is an MP.

She subsequently issued an apology after a first conversation with Mr Miliband, urging people to “fly the flag for England”.

Her apology, however, was not enough, and she was sacked after a second conversation with her leader.

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In a statement released by the party, Mrs Thornberry said: “Earlier today I sent a tweet which has caused offence to some people.

“That was never my intention and I have apologised.

“However I will not let anything distract from Labour’s chance to win the coming general election.

“I have therefore tonight told Ed Miliband I will resign from the shadow cabinet.”

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