Seven MPs quit UK Labour Party over Brexit, anti-Semitism

Seven MPs quit UK Labour Party over Brexit, anti-Semitism

A group of MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party broke away on Monday in protest at leader Jeremy Corbyn's support for Brexit and his failure to stamp out anti-Semitism.

The Labour Party has faced a steady torrent of anti-Semitism scandals in recent years, with critics pointing to a new atmosphere of hate within the party since veteran campaigner Jeremy Corbyn took the leadership in 2015.

Angela Smith, who grew up in a working-class Labour-supporting family, said her decision to resign had been painful; but that "Most people are like my family".

All seven MPs are Ms Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

In a direct challenge to Corbyn, the seven centrist MPs said they were courting others from across parliament to join their group, saying "enough is enough" in keeping silent over their doubts about the Labour leader's fitness for office. When she described bullying and bigotry in her speech, Berger was speaking from her experience within the Labour Party, and the abuse she has received on and offline.

He added, "The Tories are bungling Brexit while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan".

They issued an appeal to MPs from both Labour and other parties to "leave the old tribal politics behind" and join their new grouping.

Mr McDonnell also said the Labour leadership would "look at" a proposal by two of the party's MPs for a "confirmation referendum" to be held on a Brexit deal, should a withdrawal agreement be approved by the House of Commons. The irony of people supporting a leader who draws strength from his past dissent, yet seeking to prevent any in today's Labour Party was not lost.

There is also a hard truth to what numerous seven ex-Labour MPs said today about their former party.

Berger initially introduced herself as "the Labour Party MP", before correcting herself and saying: "I am the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree". "Jeremy Corbyn must now decide if he wants to lead a party for the many or continue to restrict it to a party of the few".

Add to that the hurt and concern inside the party over anti-Semitism that has built up over the a year ago, what the departing group have described as institutional racism towards Jewish people. Monday's development is likely to force Corbyn off the fence on Brexit, with early signs his allies will double down and refuse to back a second referendum on leaving the European Union. When the mural was again discussed in 2018, Corbyn was tardy in withdrawing his support. These are the remarks that will, no doubt, see much speculation and discussion about a new party, and the lessons of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The Independent Group website consisted of a statement from the MPs, who claimed their 'primary duty as Members of Parliament is to put the best interests of our constituents and our country first'. She called the party "sickeningly institutionally racist".

Corbyn expressed his disappointment that the group had left, referring in a statement to "Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election" when the opposition party saw its biggest increase in vote share since 1945 to win 262 seats. If more Labour MPs join, pro-EU Tories could be tempted to follow if they feel there's potential to create a legitimate power in the center of British politics.

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