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3 December 2015updated 26 Jul 2021 12:26pm

Tony Benn’s granddaughter calls for Alex Salmond to retract “burling in his grave” comment

Emily Benn wants the former First Minister to apologise for saying her grandfather would be turning “in his grave” at Hilary Benn’s speech in favour of bombing Syria.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The SNP MP and former First Minister Alex Salmond said that the late Tony Benn would be “burling in his grave” at his son Hilary’s Commons speech in favour of joining air strikes in Syria.

He told LBC:

“His [Hilary Benn’s] father, whose speech I heard in the Iraq debate all these years ago, would be burling in his grave hearing a speech in favour of a Tory prime minister wanting to take the country to war and that’s just a reality.”

Tony Benn’s granddaughter Emily has called on Salmond to retract his comment:

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Hilary Benn’s speech, which closed the Syria air strikes debate in parliament, was praised by all sides of the House, moving MPs to tears and sparking a standing ovation in the chamber. Watch it here.

UPDATE 3/12, 17.40

Salmond has made a statement on his remarks:

“I think it is a fair comment that Tony Benn would have been astonished to hear his son make a pro-war speech in favour of a Tory Prime Minister’s war plans.

“There was certainly no disrespect meant to Tony Benn, who I held on the highest regard. Not least of which because of his passionate anti-war speeches – for which I was present.

“The Labour Party would be better employed demanding an apology from the Prime Minister for calling their own party leader a ‘terrorist sympathiser’.”