the independent group
© Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP Getty Images
Former Labour party MPs Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffrey, Angela Smith and Chuka Umunna (left to right) watch as Gavin Shuker (center) addresses the press |
Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to stay.

Comment: It's notable UK MPs have been the targets of corrupt agents from Israel, and for Corbyn it's likely due to his stance on the rights of Palestinians:

Mr Corbyn said he was "disappointed" the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that "inspired millions" at the 2017 election.

The MPs are not launching a new political party - they will sit in Parliament as the Independent group.

But Chuka Umunna said they had "taken the first step" and urged other Labour MPs - and members of other parties - to join them in "building a new politics".

"Politics is broken, it doesn't have to be this way. Let's change it," he said at a launch event in central London.

He said there would be "no merger" with the Liberal Democrats and the group wanted to "build a new alternative".

Chris Leslie said the seven would have its first formal meeting "in a few days" time to "assign roles and responsibilities".

The group rejected comparisons with the SDP - which broke away from the Labour Party in the early 1980s but eventually merged with the Liberal Party - saying it was a different era and they would not be contesting by-elections.

'Painful but necessary decision'

Each of the seven took turns to explain their personal reasons for quitting the party.

Ms Berger 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."
Twitter mp resign
© @bbclaurak
Chris Leslie said Labour had been "hijacked" by the far left.

Mike Gapes said: "I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party."

Comment: Then his complaint should be with the propaganda pushed by the mainstream media companies: Making sense of the 'anti-semitism' hysteria surrounding Jeremy Corbyn

He added that it was "increasingly clear that prominent figures in the Corbyn Labour leadership do not want to stop Brexit".

Comment: Does this guy understand how democracy and voting works?

Ms Berger initially introduced herself as "the Labour Party MP", before correcting herself and saying: "I am the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree."

In a statement, Mr 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.

Comment: It should be obvious why Corbyn is so loathed by the establishment.

"The Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible plan.

"When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness, poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for all of us."

'Terrible news'

Laura Parker, national coordinator of grassroots Labour campaign Momentum, said the seven MPs wanted to "take us back to the politics of the past" and 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," she added.

"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."

Dave Prentis, leader of the Unison trade union, said the split was "terrible news".

"Working people need a Labour government but split parties don't win elections. Labour's overriding concern must be to look long at hard at the reasons why the MPs feel they are no longer able to stay in the party."

As the MPs announced their departure from Labour, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, whose new Brexit Party launched earlier this year, tweeted: "This moment may not look very exciting but it is the beginning of something bigger in British politics realignment."