‘THE HONOURABLE thing, the usual thing for them to do now, is to stand down and fight by-elections, back in their constituencies,’ shadow chancellor John McDonnell said yesterday after a group of seven Labour MPs quit the Party.
McDonnell said: ‘All of these MPs stood on our manifesto in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto, they all increased their majorities, now they are on a different platform.’
The seven MPs who have been dubbed ‘the splitters’ called a press conference yesterday morning to announce their move.
Ardent Remainer Chuka Umunna called for MPs from the LibDems, Tories and other parties to also split and join them.
He said: ‘We have taken the first step in leaving the old tribal politics behind and we invite others who share our political values to do so too. You might come from a Labour background, but you might come from other political conditions.’
He added: ‘We invite you to leave your parties and help us forge a new consensus on a way forward for Britain. We will sit together as a group of independent MPs in the House of Commons.’
Labour leader Corbyn commented on the defections saying: ‘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 plan.’
The full list includes Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree), Chris Leslie (Nottingham East), Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge), Gavin Shuker (Luton South), Mike Gapes (Ilford South), Ann Coffey (Stockport) and Chuka Umunna (Streatham).
They are all united in their opposition to Brexit and for a second referendum.
Berger, at the press conference, insulted the Labour Party claiming that it is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’. She said: ‘The leadership has wilfully and repeatedly failed to address hatred against Jewish people within its ranks, and it is for these reasons and many more that I have made this decision today.’
She alleged: ‘I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.’
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘It’s hugely disappointing that a handful of MPs chose to attack policies that would change the lives of millions of people as they exit stage right.
‘A new party for tinkering around the edges is categorically not what people in the UK need.
‘Of course anti-Semitism must be tackled, GMB Union has been very clear on that, but it’s obvious from the contributions made today that for those leaving it’s about far more than that – they fundamentally disagree with policies that GMB Union believes would change lives.
‘I gritted my teeth through the Blair era, when I disagreed with the Labour government on a host of issues. But I stayed in the party because Labour in power is always better than the alternative.
‘It would be unforgivable now for those who have resigned to stand against good Labour candidates, risking a Tory government.’