Local Labour parties tell “Independent Group” MPs to stand down

Local Labour Parties in the constituencies of MPs who have quit the party to form “The Independence Group” are calling on their representatives to stand down and allow by-elections to take place.

The seven splitters have only resigned from the Labour Party, not as MPs, which means their constituents won’t have the opportunity to vote for a Labour candidate until the next general election.

John McDonnell has already said that the “honourable thing for them to do now is to stand down and fight by-elections back in their constituencies”.

Luciana Berger‘s CLP, Liverpool Wavertree, tweeted a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that Luciana Berger has made the decision to resign from the Labour Party. 35,000 people in Wavertree voted for the Labour manifesto in 2017, yet they are no longer represented by a Labour MP.

“We call on Luciana Berger to immediately resign the seat, to give the people of Wavertree the opportunity to decide who represents them in parliament.”

The chair of Chuka Umunna‘s CLP, Joel Bodmer, has sent an email to all local Labour members stating: “I am… writing to Chuka today, thanking him for all his work as our Labour MP, and asking him to immediately call a by-election, to allow the people of Streatham to have their say.”

Bodmer is not regarded as a Corbynite, but instead as a “stay and fight” activist.

The chair of Ann Coffey‘s CLP, Stockport, is local councillor Charlie Stewart, also a member of Unite and Momentum. Stewart has told LabourList that he personally welcomes a by-election, but will consult with CLP officers next week to form a collective response.

Stockport Momentum has issued a statement accusing Coffey of a failure to attend CLP meetings and provide parliamentary reports. The group has called on her to “give the people of Stockport the chance to elect a Labour MP who is ready to fight for, and deliver, the radical changes we need”.

Chris Leslie‘s CLP, Nottingham East, said: “We look forward to contesting the seat in a by-election with a Labour candidate who is committed to our city and residents.”

The statement also accuses Leslie, who lost a no-confidence vote by local members in September, of a “lack of surgeries and engagement with local people and issues”.

Angela Smith‘s CLP, Penistone and Stocksbridge have said she should “take the honourable path” and allow Labour “to move on and challenge her at the ballot box”.

Smith, too, lost a no-confidence vote by local members last year. She has the smallest majority of those who quit Labour on Monday, winning just 1,322 more votes than the Tory candidate in 2017.

The chair of Luton South Labour, Gavin Shuker‘s CLP, described the MP as “one of the seven dwarves who resigned”, adding: “We look forward to him calling a by-election where he will be annihilated and consigned to dustbin of history where he belongs.”

Ilford South CLP has not yet issued a statement, but the campaign coordinator has said Mike Gapes is a “principled man who has worked hard for his constituents”, though “should now resign to trigger a by-election”.

Redbridge Council’s leader Jas Athwal has also called for a by-election. Gapes has nonetheless made clear his intention to stay in his seat, and before the launch tweeted: “The name Corbyn was not on the ballot paper in Ilford South.”

The MPs, who are all supporters of a fresh EU referendum and call Labour’s Brexit position a “betrayal”, have been described as “hypocritical” by critics for their refusal to fight by-elections.

Michael Chessum, organiser of pro-‘people’s vote’ group Another Europe is Possible, has backed calls for the MPs to stand down with a tweeted graphic:

Labour chair Ian Lavery has written to Labour members in the seven constituencies informing them that selection processes will start soon.

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