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Labour split: Seven MPs quit party to form independent group | Politics News

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Seven MPs have quit Labour in a rage over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and antisemitism, reducing the party’s seats in Parliament.

The group declared they were splintering to form “The Independent Group” but refused to stand down and call by-elections to receive a new mandate.

Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker stunned Westminster by holding a news conference announcing their decision on Monday morning.



Luciana Berger is one of the seven MPs to resign from the Labour Party



‘I was ashamed to remain in Labour’

They have called on other MPs, including from the Labour and Conservatives parties, to join with them against the “machine politics” of the “hard left” and “hard right”.

Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” at the news and that “now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on the splinter group to do the “honourable thing” and stand down to fight new elections in their constituencies.



Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he was 'disappointed' seven MPs left the party, and commented on the anti-Semitism issue.



‘Rebels must stand in by-elections’

The intervention threatens to blow open old rows in Labour over Brexit and antisemitism, with two MPs – Frank Field and John Woodcock – already having left the party.

The big surprise was revealed as Ms Berger took to the stage in central London’s County Hall to announce herself as “the Labour and, well… the MP for Liverpool Wavertree”.

She immediately confirmed that she and the six other MPs had resigned from the party.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates on day four of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
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The Labour leader said he was ‘disappointed’ at the news

Each introduced themselves before launching an incendiary attack on Mr Corbyn.

Ms Berger, who is Jewish, said she could not “remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally antisemitic”.

Following her was Mr Leslie, a former shadow chancellor, who said Labour had been “hijacked by the politics of the machine left” and led by Mr Corbyn to a “betrayal on Europe”.

Brexit
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Mr Corbyn was accused of enabling Brexit

Next up was Angela Smith, who hit out at “left-wing intellectuals who think being poor and working class constitutes a state of grace”.

The onslaught continued when Mr Shuker tackled Labour and the Conservatives for “seeking to set our communities against one another, poisoning our debate and dividing our country”.

He was quickly followed by Ms Coffey, who said Mr Corbyn’s leadership had “been very successful at changing this party beyond recognition”.

The veteran backbencher Mr Gapes said he was “sickened” Labour had become a “racist antisemitic party” and “furious” the Labour leadership was “facilitating” Brexit.

A demonstrator holding a painting saying "For the many not the Jew"
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Labour was branded ‘institutionally antisemitic’ by Jewish MP Luciana Berger

And wrapping up, Mr Umunna added it was “time we dumped this country’s old-fashioned politics” and “broken” political system to “give this country a politics fit for the here-and-now”.

He launched a plea directly to other MPs to leave their parties who “might come from a Labour background, but you might come from other political traditions”.

The group revealed they have not formally established themselves as a political party with the elections watchdog, nor assigned each other roles.

A full meeting of the group will take place “in the current days”, they said.

Mr Corbyn responded in a statement that at the 2017 election where Labour won 262 out of 650 seats the party “won people over on a programme for the many not the few”.

“The Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan,” he said.

“When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said the resignations proved Labour has “changed irreversibly under the leadership of Jeremy Cobyn”.

“We must never let him do to our country what he is doing to the Labour Party today,” he said.

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