Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie and Angela Smith have all resigned from the Labour Party on Monday.
The MPs have formed an Independent group in Parliament, The announcement was made at an event on Monday morning following reports that a group of MPs were unhappy with the Labour leadership’s actions over Brexit and anti-semitism.
The event was described by the group as an announcement on ‘the future of British politics’. It is understood that the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn was not made aware of the event before this morning.
Chris Leslie said at the event, “The Labour party we joined is no longer today’s Labour party. We did everything we could to save it, it has been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left”Mr Leslie also said, “British politics is now well and truly broken.”
The members of the breakaway group have all been in the Labour party for many years. Ann Coffey said that she joined the Labour Party 41 years ago, and that the Labour leadership has changed Labour “beyond recognition”.
Mike Gapes MP said ‘I am sickened that Labour is now a racist, antisemitic party and furious that Jeremy Corbyn is enabling Brexit’.
Chuka Umunna, whose office coordinated the event said too many people face barriers to reaching their potential and “established parties can’t be the change because they have become the problem” Mr Umunna invited MPs from across parties to join the new independent group. He said the first full meeting of the group will be in the coming days.
Gavin Shuker announced at the event a set of shared values for the new Independent group. A statement on the new group’s website said;
“We are leaving the Labour Party to sit as the Independent Group of Members of Parliament.
Our primary duty as Members of Parliament is to put the best interests of our constituents and our country first. Yet like so many others, we believe that none of today’s political parties are fit to provide the leadership and direction needed by our country.
Our aim is to pursue policies that are evidence-based, not led by ideology, taking a long-term perspective to the challenges of the 21st century in the national interest, rather than locked in the old politics of the 20th century in the party’s interests.
As an Independent Group we aim to recognise the value of healthy debate, show tolerance towards different opinions and seek to reach across outdated divides and build consensus to tackle Britain’s problems.”
In response to the resignations, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said;
I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.
Labour won people over on a programme for the many not the few – redistributing wealth and power, taking vital resources into public ownership, investing in every region and nation, and tackling climate change.
The Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan.
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.”
MPs from across Parliament have started to react to the new group and the resignations. More reaction is expected over the coming hours and days.