UK lawmakers formed “The Independent Group” and are inviting like-minded colleagues to join them in splitting from Labour.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Seven Members of Parliament from Britain’s Labour Party took the radical step of splitting away Monday out of disgust with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and his failures regarding Brexit and the anti-Semitism that is rife in the party.
Not yet a different political party, the seven introduced themselves at a press conference as “The Independent Group of Members of Parliament” and explained their reasons for leaving Labour.
“I’m furious that the Labour leadership is complicit in facilitating Brexit, which will cause great economic, social and political damage to our country,” MP Mike Gapes said. “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.”
Luciana Berger, a Jewish MP, cited the party leadership’s failure to oppose anti-Semitism. She told reporters that Labour is now “institutionally anti-Semitic,” having “willfully and repeatedly fail[ed] to address hatred against the Jewish people in its ranks,” adding that she is “leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.”
Lawmaker Ann Coffey made similar charges. She said that Jew hatred in the party is “rife” and accused Corbyn of shutting down criticism in general. Labour “is no longer a broad church – any criticism of the leadership is responded to with abuse and accusations of treachery,” she said.
MP Chuka Umunna, who reportedly had been lauded by some as a possible future leader of the party, noted that “people cannot be saddled with this appalling choice of incompetence.” He invited like-minded representatives to join the group as well, saying, “We invite you to leave your parties and help us forge a new consensus on a way forward for Britain.”
Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey reacted by calling on his colleagues to stay and change things from within the party.
“Desperately disappointed by the decision of the seven MPs to leave Labour,” he tweeted. “This is a political dead-end that can only help the Tories and hurt those who need change most. I served in the last Labour Government, and everyone who wants change must stay with Labour and fight for it.”
Also “disappointed” with the move, Corbyn defended his policy on the European Union, claiming that “the Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan.”
The Independent Group already has a website up with their mission statement. It reportedly crashed on the first day due to an exceedingly high number of visitors, according to the Evening Standard.