Published: Tue, February 19, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Seven UK Labour MPs quit party in split with leadership on Brexit

Seven UK Labour MPs quit party in split with leadership on Brexit

The seven MPs who quit the Labour Party lined up yesterday to deliver a devastating verdict on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Simmering tensions within Labour ranks over Mr Corbyn's approach to leaving the European Union and the party leadership's handling of anti-Semitism allegations have prompted the schism.

The seven Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, and Anne Coffey told a press conference in central London that they were quitting Labour to become independent MPs, operating under the name The Independent Group.

In a historic move, the group made up of Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey announced their departure from the main United Kingdom opposition party to sit under the new title "The Independent Group".

Describing the breakaway group as "remarkably sensible people", the minister told the Telegraph he was prepared to join the new party if the Government presses ahead with a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Leslie - a former shadow chancellor - said that Labour had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left", while Ms Berger said she had come to the "sickening" conclusion that the party is now "institutionally anti-Semitic".

Reacting to the resignations, Corbyn said he was "disappointed" that the departing MPs had felt unable to continue working for policies that had "inspired millions" during the 2017 elections. "We believe Brexit will be an economic and political disaster", he added, calling for a second referendum.

As for Labour, the risk is that the party splinters fully, handing a significant electoral advantage to May's Conservatives.

"Now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all", he added. She has frequently spoken out about the abuse she has received from fellow Labour members in recent years, challenged Corbyn on his alleged anti-Semitism problem, and even had a bodyguard at last year's Labour conference.

She said she could not remain in a party that was "institutionally anti-Semitic" and had "a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation". The necessary first step will be for Mr Corbyn to apologise for his past comments and affiliations with Jew-haters and to expedite urgently the disciplinary process against all Labour Party members accused of antisemitism.

With roughly five weeks to go until the Brexit deadline of 29 March, several Members of Parliament, including Chuka Umunna, are set to quit Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

"I'd urge anyone in our party thinking of bolting not to do so", he said.

Another of the seven MPs, Luciana Berger, a victim of online anti-Jewish abuse for years, said: "This has been a very hard, painful but necessary decision". Here are the most shocking statements made by the MPs who resigned. We're holding the party together on Brexit, those who are saying they'll split if we don't have a peoples' vote - well we've still kept that option on the table.

She added: "I can not remain part of party that I have come to the sickening conclusion is anti-semitic".

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