Seven MPs quit the Labour Party on Monday and formed a new breakaway group in Parliament, called the Independent Group. The seven MPs will stand as independent MPs – it is important to note that a new political party has not been formed at this time. It is thought that the MPs agree on a set of core values and will work together on these in Parliament. But who are the seven MPs?
Luciana Berger – Luciana Berger has been the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010. During her time as an MP, Miss Berger has held two positions in the Labour shadow cabinet, including as Shadow Minister for Public Health and then later Shadow Minister for Mental Health. Ms Berger is reportedly a strong advocate for stopping Brexit and holding a ‘People’s Vote’, or a Second Referendum.
At the event, Ms Berger said “For my part, I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party.
“I have not changed, the core values of equality for all, opportunities for all, anti-racism against all and social justice. The values which I hold really dear and which led me to join the Labour Party as a student 20 years ago remain who I am.”
Gavin Shuker – Gavin Shuker has been the Member of Parliament for Luton South since 2010. He currently has a 30% majority in his constituency. Mr Shuker was appointed as a Shadow International Development Minister in 2013.
In a statement, Mr Shuker said “My decision to leave the Party is rooted in my commitment to the constituents of Luton South and to making decisions in their best interests.
“Today, the Labour party is riddled with anti-Semitism, it presents a threat to our national security and it’s perfectly content to enable the hard Tory Brexit that will directly and negatively affect people in Luton.”
Chuka Umunna – Chuka Umunna has been the Member of Parliament for Streatham since 2010 and was Shadow Business Secretary in the Labour Party from 2011 to 2015. Mr Umunna’s office coordinated the event, and at the event, he 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.
Ann Coffey – Ann Coffey has been the Member of Parliament for Stockport since 1992. Ms Coffey is the oldest member of the new Independent Group at 72 years of age.
At the event, Ann Coffey said “Any criticism of the leadership is met with abuse and accusations of treachery. Anti-semitism is rife and tolerated.”
Mike Gapes – Mike Gapes has been the Member of Parliament for Ilford South since 1992. Mr Gapes has a majority of 54% in his constituency. Before becoming an MP, Mr Gapes served as International Secretary of the Labour Party from 1988 to 1992.
Mr Gapes gave an emotional speech at the event, and said ‘I am sickened that Labour is now a racist, antisemitic party and furious that Jeremy Corbyn is enabling Brexit’.
Chris Leslie – Chris Leslie has been the Member of Parliament for Nottingham East since 2010. Mr Leslie briefly served as the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the shadow cabinet of acting Labour leader Harriet Harman in 2015.
At the event, Mr Leslie said “The Labour Party we joined and campaigned for and believed in is no longer today’s Labour Party.
“We did everything we could to save it. But it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.
“Our values haven’t changed. We absolutely oppose this Conservative Government.”
Angela Smith – Angela Smith has been the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge since 2010. She has a majority of just 2.6% in her constituency.
At the event, Ms Smith said I cannot, in all conscience, continue to affiliate with a Labour Party that I consider unfit for government. It is not alone in this; our politics is broken and all the main parties are incapable of inspiring confidence in the future.
The group of MPs have formed the Independent Group, and all seven will sit as Independent MPs in the UK Parliament. They have agreed on a set of core values, details of which can be found here.