7 lawmakers quit UK Labour Party over Brexit, anti-Semitism

Labour MP Gavin Shuker walks past a Leave poster

Labour MP Gavin Shuker walks past a Leave poster

Seven British politicians say they are quitting the main opposition Labour Party over its approach to issues including Brexit and anti-Semitism.

There have been growing reports a group of disaffected Labour MPs could quit the party due to their disgruntlement with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's stance on Brexit, as well as his handling of antisemitism allegations.

"This has been a very hard, painful but necessary decision", one of the MPs, Luciana Berger, said at a hastily arranged press conference in London, calling the party "institutionally anti-Semitic".

Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Chuka Umunna will now sit in an "Independent Group" they want to become a new force in United Kingdom politics.

At a snap press conference in London, the members of Parliament stood up to explain why they had resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party.

The splitters - who have between nine and 27 years' experience in Parliament and represent constituencies across England - make up a small fraction of Labour's 256 MPs, or of the 650 total members of Parliament.

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"I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation".

Senior Labour figures have warned MPs against splitting away from the party - claiming it could risk a decade of Conservative government.

"I'm deeply saddened to see colleagues leave the Labour Party", said the party's Brexit spokesperson, Keir Starmer.

Another, Mike Gapes, accused the party's leaders of being "complicit in facilitating Brexit".

"But these values are no longer valid in today's Labour Party". Corbyn voted against joining the Common Market, the precursor to the European Union, in 1975 and was subject to criticism in the lead-up to the 2016 referendum for failing to campaign for the Remain side.

The point for the backers is to wreck Labour's chances of being elected and wreck Jeremy Corbyn's chance of being Britain's Prime Minister.

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Ms Berger, who is Jewish, added: "I can not remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic".

Chuka Umunna believes "it is time we dumped this country's old-fashioned politics" to create a new political party free from tribal politics that is "fit for the here and now".

In a statement posted online, the MPs announced the formation a new group called "The Independent Group" where they attacked Corbyn saying the Labour Party was pursuing policies which would "weaken our national security". The motion called "on the party leadership to adequately tackle cases of anti-Semitism, as a failure to do so seriously risks anti-Semitism in the party appearing normalized and the party seeming to be institutionally anti-Semitic".

A Labour source close to the group, said today's departures could trigger a second wave of resignations, underlining the frustration over Corbyn's approach to Britain's biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.

The former London mayoral candidate told RT that the new grouping of centrist MPs have little chance of success but have big money supporting them.

Left-wing hardliner Derek Hatton has been readmitted to the Labour Party more than 30 years after he was expelled.

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But only seven MPs have jumped, and it's unclear that others are ready to throw their careers off the side of the ship just yet.

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