Seven Labour MPs quit party and form “The Independent Group”

Sienna Rodgers

Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Mike Gapes have quit the Labour Party and will now sit in parliament as a “new independent group of MPs”.

Responding to the news, 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.”

Opening the press conference today, Luciana Berger confirmed that the group resigned from the Labour Party this morning. She described the decision as “painful”.

“I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party,” the Liverpool Wavertree MP said. “I have come to the sickening conclusion that it is institutionally antisemitic.”

Taking to the podium next, Chris Leslie highlighted Labour’s Brexit position – “Labour’s betrayal on Europe” – and the foreign policy stances of Jeremy Corbyn.

Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker argued that Labour had abandoned its values, while Ann Coffey said the leadership had “changed the party beyond recognition”.

Chuka Umunna invited people to “leave your parties” and “help forge a new consensus”. He noted that roles had not yet been assigned between the MPs, but they would hold formal meetings in the following days.

Shadow cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth tweeted his criticism of the move:

Similarly, Corbynite group Momentum said the breakaway group risked handing power to the Tories for longer, echoing a similar warning expressed by John McDonnell on Sunday:

Momentum chair Jon Lansman criticised the MPs for not respecting the 2016 referendum result:

Momentum’s national coordinator Laura Parker commented: “Labour now has a plan to rebuild Britain. These MPs want to take us back to the politics of the past. With a back to the Blair years programme of privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of the banks, they offer no concrete solutions, no new ideas and have no support amongst the public.

“Across Europe, parties stuck in the middle of the road mould have no young supporter base to speak of and are plummeting in the polls, enabling the rise of the far right. Tens of thousands of volunteers regularly come out and campaign for Labour. This fringe minority of MPs have today not set out any agenda capable of inspiring anything remotely similar.”

Backbench MPs voiced their disappointment in response to the events, including Lisa Nandy, who is a member of the Labour Together group that is guest editing LabourList this week, and Lucy Powell, who is thought of as a Corbynsceptic but has sought compromise on Brexit:

Young Labour, which has a majority of left-wing Corbynites on its executive committee, quoted ‘The Red Flag’ in response to the news:

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