Chuka Umunna: Independent Group will turn into political party within MONTHS

A Tory Minister admitted today he ‘perfectly understands’ what the ‘gang of seven’ is doing and failed to rule out joining the group.

Richard Harrington – who last week urged hardline Brexiteers to leave the Tories and join Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party – said his battle was inside the Conservatives.

But as the new Independent Group appealed for members from across the Commons, Mr Harrington said only he and others ‘intend to win this battle’.

Independent group ringleader Chuka Umunna today predicted the group would turn into a full-blown political party within months.

He made a direct plea to ‘demoralised’ Tory MPs frustrated at the ‘Ukipisation’ of the party’s grass roots as ex-Ukip members turn to the Conservatives.

Mr Umunna’s call came as Westminster waits to see who will jump next. If the group can swell to 36 members it could take the SNP’s place as the third biggest party and get to question the Prime Minister every week.

Tory MPs Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen are all the subject of intense scrutiny amid rumours they could defect.

Former minister Nick Boles said it was ‘b*******’ to suggest he could defect today – after appearing to leave the question open yesterday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been warned he could lose as many as 50 MPs if he refuses to tackle the anti-Semitism, bullying and hard-left culture cited by the seven politicians who triggered the biggest split in British politics since 1981.

Appearing on GMB today (pictured), Chuka Umunna said he would like to see a new party form out of the group ‘by the end the of the year’

Sarah Wollaston said the former UKip members were 'taking over the Tory Party' allied to MPs in the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers (pictured with two members of the 'gang of seven' Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger last month)

Sarah Wollaston said the former UKip members were 'taking over the Tory Party' allied to MPs in the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers (pictured with two members of the 'gang of seven' Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger last month)

Tory Minister Richard Harrington (left) has stopped short of ever ruling out joining the Independent Group after slamming hardline Brexiteers while Tory Sarah Wollaston has warned the party is being taken over by ex-Ukip activists

Dr Wollaston's intervention will raise expectations she and other Tory MPs could join the 'gang of seven' centrists who walked out of Labour yesterday

Dr Wollaston's intervention will raise expectations she and other Tory MPs could join the 'gang of seven' centrists who walked out of Labour yesterday

Dr Wollaston’s intervention will raise expectations she and other Tory MPs could join the ‘gang of seven’ centrists who walked out of Labour yesterday

The rebel MPs have chosen to sit next to the DUP in the Commons today. Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Mike Gapes are pictured in the Commons top right behind Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine speaking today

The rebel MPs have chosen to sit next to the DUP in the Commons today. Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Mike Gapes are pictured in the Commons top right behind Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine speaking today

The rebel MPs have chosen to sit next to the DUP in the Commons today. Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Mike Gapes are pictured in the Commons top right behind Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine speaking today

Mr Harrington told the Telegraph he ‘perfectly understands’ what Independent Group is doing and wishes them all the best – adding the for the Conservative Party by one nation Tories like himself and Greg Clark is not lost.

Which Tories could jump ship to the new Independent Group?

So far no Conservative MP has gone public with support for the new Independent Group – but Westminster is rife with rumours pro-Remain MPs could make the jump amid frustration over Brexit.

Leading contenders are thought to be:

  • Sarah Wollaston
  • Heidi Allen
  • Anna Soubry

There are even reports a minister is considering the leap. Attention will focus on ministers who have spoken out against no deal Brexit like Richard Harrington, who called the ERG traitors last week.

He said: ‘We intend to win this battle.’

He added later to Sky News: ‘I’m a conservative, a moderate Conservative but a Conservative.’

Mr Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Mike Gapes left in rage at Mr Corbyn’s leadership yesterday.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said the decision was only ‘premature’, while Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for a ‘mammoth listening exercise’ today as the Labour leadership scrambled to deal with the crisis.

But Mr Corbyn warned the group this afternoon they had been elected on Labour’s manifesto – and even jibed those who felt he did not listen were ‘not taking up the opportunities that are available’.

The stubborn response will anger Labour MPs considering whether to follow their former colleagues over the top.

The Independent Group warned ‘politics is broken’ and appealed from other parties to join their new group.

Their resignation signals the biggest split in British politics since the SDP walked out of Labour in 1981 and realigned the left – paving the way for Tony Blair’s election in 1997.

What is the Independent Group and can you vote for it?

What happened yesterday?

Seven MPs resigned from the Labour Party and set up something called the Independent Group

Is it a political party?

No. It is a small business – technically a limited company – called Gemini A Ltd that was set up Gavin Shuker, one of the MPs, in January. But leaders have said an actual party will form out of the group ‘by the end the of the year’.

Can I vote for it?

No. Unless and until it registers with the Electoral Commission, it cannot stand candidates.

Can I donate to it?

Yes. The group is accepting donations through its website theindependent.group. It says donations will support the newly independent MPs.

What does it want?

All seven are Remain supporters and most of them have promoted a second referendum to cancel Brexit. They say they want evidence-based policy making to tackle the challenges facing Britain – without being inside a toxic Labour Party.

They appealed to the public for donations to get the new project – which is not yet a political party and is not yet able to stand candidates – off the ground.

Mr Umunna told the Today programme the ‘gang of seven’ were putting ‘everything on the line’ – and said: ‘We’re inviting anybody who shares our values to join us.

‘There are clearly a lot of Labour MPs wrestling with their conscience, and Conservatives who are demoralised for the Ukip-isation, if you like, of the party.’

Mr Ummuna added: ‘There are many other people who have misgivings about their parties.

‘If we’re to fix the broken politics, you can’t do that within the existing parties who can’t be the change because they’ve become the problem in my view.’

Appearing on GMB today, Mr Umunna said he would like to see a new party form out of the group ‘by the end the of the year’.

Outlining how a new party could be a fighting force before the next election, he said: ‘There needs to be an alternative, so that’s perfectly possible – a new party with a new name and new leader in next nine months.’

Mr Umunna insisted he did not believe he and the other MPs should quit their seats and hold by-elections, as demanded by shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

He said: ‘In a parliamentary democracy you elect a person and then their party after.’

Heidi Allen (centre) and Anna Soubry (right) have also appeared alongside Mr Umunna to campaign for a new vote on Brexit. They could quit the Tories for the new Independent Group

Heidi Allen (centre) and Anna Soubry (right) have also appeared alongside Mr Umunna to campaign for a new vote on Brexit. They could quit the Tories for the new Independent Group

Heidi Allen (centre) and Anna Soubry (right) have also appeared alongside Mr Umunna to campaign for a new vote on Brexit. They could quit the Tories for the new Independent Group

Tory MP Anna Soubry has at some point recently deleted a Tory slogan from her Twitter profile fuelling speculation she could join the new group

Tory MP Anna Soubry has at some point recently deleted a Tory slogan from her Twitter profile fuelling speculation she could join the new group

Tory MP Anna Soubry has at some point recently deleted a Tory slogan from her Twitter profile fuelling speculation she could join the new group

Shadow chancellor Mr McDonnell has called for a ‘mammoth listening exercise’ in response to the crisis.

Mr McDonnell told Sky news: ‘We need a mammoth, massive listening exercise and (to) address some of those criticisms that have been made.’

The shadow chancellor said the ‘only disagreement we have had within the party is around how we handle Brexit and I think we are bringing people together on that’.

Mr McDonnell played down suggestions that as many as 36 Labour MPs had been considering a split.

He said: ‘I don’t think there is that scale, but the key issue for us – and it was made clear at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), Tom Watson said it and others – the Labour leadership, and I’m part of that, we need to keep listening, bring people in, talk to them.’

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Mike Gapes left in rage at Jeremy Corbyn's failure to tackle anti-Semitism

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Mike Gapes left in rage at Jeremy Corbyn's failure to tackle anti-Semitism

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Mike Gapes left in rage at Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism

Mr McDonnell told Sky news: ‘We need a mammoth, massive listening exercise and (to) address some of those criticisms that have been made.’

May is warned by FOUR of her Cabinet at Downing Street showdown up to 22 ministers will quit to stop no deal

Theresa Méi was confronted by four of her ministers in Downing Street and warned to stop threatening no deal Brexit, it has emerged.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Scottish Secretary David Mundell said up to 22 ministers would quit the Government to oppose crashing out.

They warned Mrs May businesses now need certainty the UK will not leave the EU without a deal in place, the wali cenah.

MPs are due to have a new round of showdown votes next week and Mrs May has been warned failure to take no deal off the table could finally see Parliament take control.

The warning came ahead of today’s Cabinet where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will brief on his latest talks with Brussels amid continuing deadlock over the Northern Ireland backstop.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has delayed a speech due today on the backstop as talks continue with Brussels.

The shadow chancellor said the ‘only disagreement we have had within the party is around how we handle Brexit and I think we are bringing people together on that’.

Mr McDonnell played down suggestions that as many as 36 Labour MPs had been considering a split.

He said: ‘I don’t think there is that scale, but the key issue for us – and it was made clear at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), Tom Watson said it and others – the Labour leadership, and I’m part of that, we need to keep listening, bring people in, talk to them.’

Prominent Labour MP Mary Creagh said she had been approached to join the breakaway, but said no.

Ms Creagh told the BBC: ‘I think what’s important is that we now take a long hard look at ourselves as a political party.

‘It’s clear that Brexit is pushing both parties to the brink. It’s clear that anti-Semitism has taken root in our party.’

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the MPs who quit took an ‘agonising’ decision as she called for unity.

Ms Long-Bailey told the BBC: ‘I know that the decision colleagues made to leave the party was agonising, but I honestly don’t think it was the right one.’

Tensions in Labour ranks broke into a stormy meeting of the PLP on Monday night.

Party chairman Ian Lavery faced an angry backlash at the gathering.

The warning came ahead of today's Cabinet where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (pictured today in Downing Street) will brief ministers on his latest talks with Brussels amid continuing deadlock over the Northern Ireland backstop

The warning came ahead of today's Cabinet where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (pictured today in Downing Street) will brief ministers on his latest talks with Brussels amid continuing deadlock over the Northern Ireland backstop

The warning came ahead of today’s Cabinet where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (pictured today in Downing Street) will brief ministers on his latest talks with Brussels amid continuing deadlock over the Northern Ireland backstop

Chief Secretary Liz Truss (left) and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (right) joined ministers in No 10 this morning for the weekly Cabinet

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox (pictured today arriving for Cabinet) is due to give a speech on the backstop this week but it has been delayed from today as talks continue

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox (pictured today arriving for Cabinet) is due to give a speech on the backstop this week but it has been delayed from today as talks continue

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox (pictured today arriving for Cabinet) is due to give a speech on the backstop this week but it has been delayed from today as talks continue

‘It’s good to be back’: Militant leader Derek Hatton gloats about being let back into Labour

Hatton, pictured on a Militant march in Liverpool in 1985, was expelled from the party

Hatton, pictured on a Militant march in Liverpool in 1985, was expelled from the party

Mr Hatton, then deputy leader of Liverpool city council, caused a bitter Labour row in 1985 by setting an illegal budget

Mr Hatton, then deputy leader of Liverpool city council, caused a bitter Labour row in 1985 by setting an illegal budget

Hatton, pictured left on a Militant march in Liverpool and right speaking in 1985, was expelled from the party for his role in the Trotskyist movement

Ex-Militant leader Derek Hatton gloated ‘it’s good to be back’ today after he was let back into Labout for the first time in decades.

The left-wing hardliner was expelled more than 30 years ago but was handed a membership card yesterday – the same day as seven moderate MP quit the party.

Mr Hatton mocked the ‘pathetic’ MPs who quit Labour over anti-Semitism, bullying and hard-left politics yesterday, claiming they had ‘run away’ from disagreement.

Hatton was the ringleader of the Trotskyist Militant tendency in the 1980s which set an illegal budget in Liverpool – causing ‘grotesque chaos’ in the city – and brought about bitter divisions in the party.

He was thrown out in 1986 but the party’s disputes panel is said to have readmitted him last week after he was ‘inspired’ to return by Jeremy Corbyn‘s leadership.

The news of Hatton’s return comes on the same day that seven Labour moderates quit the party in protest at Mr Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.

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Mr Hatton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Of course it’s good to be back, in fact in a way I’ve never left.

‘For 34 years I’ve stayed absolutely solid with the Labour Party. Never joined any other party, never actually voted for another party. Never campaigned for another party.

Labour sources said Mr Lavery stressed the leadership’s commitment to rooting out anti-Semitism at what was described as a ‘heated’ behind-closed-doors gathering at Westminster.

But his claims were greeted with derision by some of those present with accusations that he failed to understand the ‘enormity’ of the problem.

A party source said Mr Lavery had spelt out the measures being taken to deal with the ‘appalling abuse’.

‘Ian Lavery spoke about the party’s traditions as a broad church, in which there is a wide range of opinions, but we work together to build a brighter future for millions of people and transform our society,’ the source said.

‘He made clear the party’s absolute determination to root out anti-Semitism and the work that is being done to improve procedures to tackle this appalling abuse.’

Mr Umunna was one of seven Labour MPs to quit yesterday with an explosive attack on Jeremy Corbyn for letting anti-Semitism and a culture of bullying infect their party.

After the move Mr Corbyn’s own deputy warned more MPs would abandon the party if Labour fails to deal with a culture of bullying and harassment.

Tom Watson said he believed the decision of seven MPs to resign and set up a new Independent Group was ‘premature’ but he refused to condemn them as ‘traitors’ as he admitted he also no longer recognised parts of Labour.

Labour’s second in command said the hard-left takeover over of the party had left it with an army of activists ‘too easily tempted into the language of heresy and treachery’.

Announcing their decision at yesterday’s sensational press conference, Miss Berger said: ‘This morning we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful, but necessary decision.’

She added: ‘For my part, I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party.

‘I cannot remain in a party which I have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.’

The Jewish MP – who has previously been the target of anti-Semitic tweets and was protected by bodyguards at last year’s party conference following death threats – accused the Labour leadership of ‘wilfully and repeatedly failing to address hatred against Jewish people within its ranks’.

Mr Leslie, who described Labour as ‘rotten to its core’, said it would be ‘irresponsible’ to allow Mr Corbyn to become Prime Minister, warning that his policies ‘would threaten our national security’. He accused Labour of ‘betraying’ the country over Brexit.

The MPs called on both Tories and Liberal Democrats to join their new group, as they rejected comparisons with the Social Democratic Party, which was founded by the ‘Gang of Four’ breakaway Labour MPs in 1981.

In a direct appeal, Mr Umunna urged them to ‘leave the old tribal politics behind’, adding: ‘We invite you to leave your parties and help us forge a new consensus on a way forward for Britain.’ In a statement, Mr Corbyn said he was ‘disappointed’ by the announcement.

Rebels are already more popular than the Lib Dems

The breakaway movement launched yesterday by rebel Labour MPs immediately became Britain’s third most popular political group.

If they contested the next general election as a national party they would win 8 per cent of votes, damaging Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of entering No 10.

The biggest losers are the Lib Dems, whose support slumps from 10 to 6 per cent.

These are among the findings of the first full-scale opinion survey conducted after the seven MPs formed the new Independent Group yesterday.

Alarmingly for Mr Corbyn, the Survation poll says nearly one in three Labour voters prefer the new group to the official Corbyn-led Labour Party.

A total of 56 per cent of members of the public say the rebel MPs were right to abandon the Labour Party; just 20 per cent said they should have stayed.

There is also clear public support for their reasons for leaving. More than one in two agree Mr Corbyn is a ‘threat to UK security’ and that Labour has been ‘hijacked by the hard Left’.

The poll suggests that if the Independent Group became a national party, it would cut support for Labour to 34 per cent, down two percentage points, with the Conservatives on 39, five points ahead, a slight increase in its lead over Labour.

Given a straight choice between Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party and the breakaway movement, most voters choose the latter. Among Labour supporters, 45 per cent back Mr Corbyn with 31 per cent behind the rebels.

The best-known Labour rebel, Chuka Umunna, is the clear public choice to lead the new group. Moreover, ominously for Mr Corbyn, Mr Umunna is seen as ‘best Labour PM’ by 28 per cent, three points ahead of Mr Corbyn himself on 25. Among Labour voters, 48 per cent back ‘PM Corbyn’ with 23 per cent in favour of ‘PM Umunna’.

Mr Corbyn gets most blame for the split: A total of 43 per cent of voters see him as the main cause; 23 per cent put it down to anti-Semitism in Labour, and 17 per cent say Brexit is the main factor.

A total of 28 per cent say the splinter group makes it more likely that the Tories will win the next election; 25 per cent say it makes it less likely.

But 57 per cent of voters disapprove of the rebels’ refusal to resign their seats and stand in by-elections, against 22 per cent who are content for them to carry on as MPs.

Survation interviewed 1,023 adults online yesterday afternoon.

Luciana Berger: Dubbed a ‘dirty little Zionist rat’ by pro-Corbyn activists

  • Heavily pregnant Luciana Berger, has been Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree’ since 2010
  • Has been at the centre of the Labour party’s anti-Semitism row and a vocal critic of Corbyn’s leadership
  • Dubbed a ‘dirty little Zionist rat’ by pro-Corbyn activists, Luciana grew up in Wembley, in a close Jewish family
  • Her father runs a family home furnishing business, and until recently her mother worked in a palliative care unit
  • Liverpool Wavertree voted Remain by 64.7% in 2016.

Ms Berger’s stance on anti-Semitism has seen her face a torrent of abuse from online trolls and she required a police escort at last year’s Labour Party conference after receiving death threats.

Ms Berger, who is heavily pregnant and Jewish, recently faced a vote of no confidence by her local constituency party, which was eventually withdrawn after a heated row in the Labour ranks.

During the press conference announcing the split, revealing she joined the Labour Party as a student 20 years ago, Ms Berger said she had become ’embarrassed and ashamed to remain’.

Elected in 2010, during the last general election she secured a 29,466 majority, and has previously been shadow minister for public health and mental health, and currently sits on the Health and Social Care Committee.

Ms Berger, a remainer, is a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum on Brexit.
She said: ‘This morning we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful, but necessary decision.

‘We represent different parts of the country, we are of different backgrounds, we were born of different generations, but we all share the same values.

‘From today, we will all sit in Parliament as a new independent group of MPs.’

Ms Berger said she had become ’embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party’.

‘I have not changed. The core values of equality for all, opportunity 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 almost 20 years ago – remain who I am.

‘And yet these values have been consistently and constantly violated, undermined and attacked, as the Labour Party today declines to my constituents and our country before party interests.

‘I cannot remain in a party which I have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.’

Chuka Umunna: ‘Politics is broken. It doesn’t have to be this way’

  • Chuka Umunna, the MP for Streatham since 2010. Umunna ran — briefly — for the Labour leadership in 2015. He withdrew citing a desire to protect his private life from scrutiny
  • Born in 1978 to a Nigerian father, who arrived in Liverpool in 1964 aged 23, according to Umunna’s biog, ‘with one suitcase and no money’; and an English-Irish mother, a probation officer and later lawyer who supported her family while Chuka’s father built up his business.
  • His father, Bennett, died in a car crash soon after standing to be a governor of a Nigerian state on an anti-bribery platform in 1992
  • Streatham voted Remain by 79.5% in 2016

One of the leading voices in the People’s Vote campaign, Mr Umunna has been the MP for Streatham in south London since 2010.

At today’s press conference, Mr Umunna said politics is ‘broken’ and Westminster parties have been ‘failing’ the public.

He served under Ed Miliband as shadow business secretary between 2011 and 2015, and stood in the 2015 party leadership race, but withdrew after only three days, saying he was ‘uncomfortable’ with ‘the added level of scrutiny that came with being a leadership candidate’.

The 40-year-old quit the frontbench the day after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, citing differences over the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Mr Umunna won a 68.5% share of his constituency vote at the 2017 general election and holds a majority of more than 26,000.

At the launch today, he said: ‘It is time we dumped this country’s old-fashioned politics,’ he says. The UK needs a political party ‘fit for the here and now’ and the ‘first step in leaving the tribal politics behind’.

‘You don’t join a political party to fight the people within it,’ he says. The new group will have its first formal meeting in the coming days.’

Umunna says the bottom line is: ‘Politics is broken. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s change it.’

Mike Gapes: ‘Sickened by party’s anti-semitism’

  • MP for Ilford South since the 1992 general election and one of the Labour Party’s longest serving MPs
  • Is sickened by antisemitism in the party and is furious that the Labour leadership ‘is facilitating Brexit’
  • Gapes was born in Wanstead Hospital, the son of a postman, and a shop assistant
  • He worked at Labour Party Headquarters for 15 years from 1977 until 1992 including serving from 1988 to 1992 as International Secretary of the Labour Party
  • Ilford South voted Remain by 56.7% in 2016.

Veteran MP Mr Gapes said he was ‘sickened that Labour is now racist anti-Semitic party and furious that Labour party complicit in facilitating Brexit’

Mr Gapes, a former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told the press conference: ‘I am sickened that the Labour Party is now a racist, anti-Semitic party.

‘I am furious that the Labour leadership is complicit in facilitating Brexit, which will cause great economic, social and political damage to our country.

‘Jeremy Corbyn and those around him are on the wrong side on so many international issues – from Russia, to Syria, to Venezuela.

‘A Corbyn Labour government would threaten our national security and international alliances.’

In December 2018, Mr Gapes signed a letter in The Guardian calling for a second vote on Brexit.

He, alongside 16 other MPs across Parliament, said: ‘We call on all party leaders and parliament to trust the people with the final say so we can face the future united.’

Ann Coffey: ‘I thought I’d be in Labour for the rest of my life’

  • MP for Stockport since 1992 and one of Labour’s longest serving politicians, after first being elected as a councillor in 1984
  • Accused Corbyn of ‘tolerating’ anti-Semitism so it is ‘rife’ inside the Labour Party
  • She is the author of Real Voices, an independent report into child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester published in October 2014
  • Stockport voted Remain by 53.2% in 2016

The MP for Stockport in Greater Manchester spent more than four decades in the Labour Party, and said she thought she would be a member ‘until the end of [her] life’ when she resigned the Labour whip on Monday.

A supporter of a second referendum on Brexit, Ms Coffey, 72, was one of two MPs who tabled a motion of no-confidence in Jeremy Corbyn the day after the EU referendum. She said at the time: ‘The result of the European Union referendum leaves this country in a mess.

‘Leaders have to take responsibility and [Jeremy Corbyn] has to take his share of responsibility for this, and he should resign.’

Announcing that she will now sit as an independent MP on Monday, Ms Coffey said the Labour Party ‘is no longer a broad church’.

She said: ‘Any criticism is responded to with abuse and accusations of treachery. Anti-Semitism is rife and tolerated.’

First elected in 1992, Ms Coffey has held a majority of almost 14,500 since the 2017 general election.

Angela Smith: Voters feel ‘politically homeless’ as the country faces huge challenges

  • Has been an MP for two constituencies – first for Sheffield Hillsborough 2005-10 and since 2010 Penistone and Stocksbridge
  • Served as a shadow minister under Ed Miliband after being a Labour Party members since she was 16 years old
  • Before politics, she worked for five years in the NHS before a career as an English lecturer
  • She was targeted in the expenses scandal after it emerged she submitted claims for four beds for her one bedroom flat in London
  • Penistone and Stockbridge voted Leave by 60.7% in 2016

The 57-year-old MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire was first elected in May 2005 for Sheffield, Hillsborough. She won the 2017 general election contest with a 1,322 majority.

Last month Mr Corbyn was criticised after he appeared to refuse to give way to Ms Smith during his Commons Brexit statement, which she suggested happened because she supports a second referendum.

Over the years, the veteran MP has formed part of a number of parliamentary select committees, including transport and environment, food and rural affairs.

In her statement as the Labour Party split was announced, highly critical of Mr Corbyn, Ms Smith said since his election as leader in 2015 there has been a change in the Labour Party that has ‘destroyed the proud legacy built by our predecessors’.

She also revealed that by the age of five she knew her voting intention, but that the current Labour Party is ‘characterised by lazy, populist thinking’.

Angela Smith rejected comparisons with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) breakaway in 1981.

‘I just don’t think the comparison with the SDP stands up to scrutiny,’ said Ms Smith.

‘This is a different century and the challenges that the country faces are on a scale that I don’t think we have seen at any other time in the post-war period.’

She added that voters felt ‘politically homeless’.

Chris Leslie: ‘Labour has been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left’

  • Elected as MP for Nottingham East in 2010, Leslie was supposed to be a high flyer – serving briefly as shadow chancellor after the 2015 election
  • He was first elected as MP aged just 24, winning Shipley between 1997 and 2005 – serving as a junior minister under Tony Blair – before losing to Tory Philip Davies
  • Leslie worked for a Blairite think tank while out of Parliament
  • Nottingham East voted Remain by 57.1%

In a video for his Twitter followers Chris Leslie said: ‘Today I’ve announced I’m leaving the Labour Party and will continue to sit in Parliament representing Nottingham East in a new independent group of MPs.

‘I’ve been a Labour Party member for more than three decades but the Labour Party I joined is no longer today’s Labour Party. I did everything I could to save it but it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.

‘My values haven’t changed. I absolutely oppose this Conservative government and desperately want an alternative which tackles the barriers of poverty and discrimination by extending opportunity for all.

‘But British politics is now well and truly broken and in all conscience I cannot look you in the face and honestly urge you to support a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.’

Gavin Shuker: ‘If you want to build something new, this is the moment to build it

  • First elected in 2010 as the MP for Luton South
  • Educated at state school, he was leader and pastor of the City Life Church in Luton before entering politics
  • Luton South voted Leave by 54.6%

Mr Shuker, in a direct appeal for donations, added: ‘If you want to build something new, if you feel as politically homeless as us, this is the moment to build it.’

He told his constituents: ‘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.

‘At a national level, I hope you’ll agree that politics, as it is, is broken. None of the parties are providing the leadership that we need at this moment of crisis, and you’ve been trying to tell us this for a long time – not just since Brexit. That’s why my hope is that the actions I’ve taken today, alongside others, will enable us to change politics, together.’

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(Total pintonan: Time 23, 1 kunjungan per poé)

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