Seven British MP s – Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey – have quit the Labour Party over anti-Semitism and the party’s stance on Brexit and foreign policy issues.
The group includes five former shadow ministers and has formed what they call “The Independent Group.” They plan to sit as independent parliamentarians in the House of Commons, reflecting what they say are millions of British voters who feel they are “politically homeless,” according to Politico.
MP Luciana Berger told reporters at a news conference in Westminister that she personally could not remain in a party that “I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic . . . I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation,” she said.
MP Mike Gapes likewise said, “This morning I have resigned from the Labour Party after fifty years. . . I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party. He added his concern, however, that it was “increasingly clear that prominent figures in the Corbyn Labour leadership do not want to stop Brexit.”
Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said, “The once fiercely anti-racist Labour Party has become institutionally anti-Semitic under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. He had every opportunity to tackle anti-Semitism within his party, but his failure to do so and his appalling personal choices during his political career should leave nobody in any doubt that he himself is an anti-Semite.
“Many Labour MPs and members implored Mr Corbyn to act and gave him an unreasonably generous amount of time to act. He has not acted and he will not act. Moreover, those who have been swept into positions of power behind Mr Corbyn have shown that they have no intention of addressing anti-Semitism and instead will wield their power to obstruct the fight against anti-Semitism,” Falter added.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has referred the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is now due to decide whether to open a full statutory investigation into anti-Semitic discrimination and victimization within the party.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded Monday in a statement saying that he was “disappointed these MP s 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. Now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”
The United Kingdom is set to formally ends its membership in the European Union on March 29, 2019. However, British lawmakers have yet to end their squabbling and come to an agreement on future trade terms, and an exit plan.