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Will Labour split within hours? Anti-Corbyn rebels are poised to make a statement

A group of seven Labour MPs led by Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna quit the party today vowing to ‘change politics’ by creating a new ‘Independent Group’.

The MPs are all arch-critics of Jeremy Corbyn furious at his handling of Brexit and refusal to back a second referendum. 

The group also includes Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey and Mike Gapes.

Opening an explosive press conference in Westminster, Ms Berger said she had become ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ to be in Corbyn’s Labour.

She said Labour had become ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’ and said she was ‘leaving behind a culture of bullying and intimidation’.

Former shadow chancellor Mr Leslie said Labour had been ‘taken over’ by the ‘machine politics of the hard left’ – insisting the party had left him and not that his values had changed. 

Mr Leslie slammed Mr Corbyn’s failure to endorse a second referendum on Brexit. 

Veteran MP Mr Gapes said he was ‘sickened that Labour is now racist anti-Semitic party and furious that Labour party complicit in facilitating Brexit’. 

In a group statement, the MPs accused Mr Corbyn of turning Labour into a party that weakens national security, accepts the ‘narrative’ of Britain’s enemies and is failing to lead on Brexit.

They warn ‘visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are commonplace in and around the Labour Party’. 

‘The Independent Group’ also calls on politicians from other parties to defect.

Labour leader Jeremy 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.’ 

Luciana Berger said she had become ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ to be in Corbyn’s Labour, branding the party ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’

Chuka Umunna is among the Labour MPs to have given up on the party today to set up a new 'Independent Group' in Parliament 

Chuka Umunna is among the Labour MPs to have given up on the party today to set up a new ‘Independent Group’ in Parliament 

Former shadow chancellor Mr Leslie said Labour had been 'taken over' by the 'machine politics of the hard left' - insisting the party had left him and not that his values had changed

Former shadow chancellor Mr Leslie said Labour had been ‘taken over’ by the ‘machine politics of the hard left’ – insisting the party had left him and not that his values had changed

Rumours of an historic split in Jeremy Corbyn's (pictured today leaving home) party exploded overnight and an event in central London was confirmed this morning

Rumours of an historic split in Jeremy Corbyn’s (pictured today leaving home) party exploded overnight and an event in central London was confirmed this morning

In a statement, the group said: ‘Each of us has dedicated decades to the progressive values that were once held true by Labour, values which have since been abandoned by today’s Labour Party.

Which MPs quit Corbyn’s Labour? 

The seven MPs to quit Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour today are: 

  • Chuka Umunna
  • Luciana Berger
  • Chris Leslie
  • Angela Smith
  • Gavin Shuker
  • Mike Gapes
  • Ann Coffey 

The new group joins other former Labour MPs have walked away from the party since Mr Corbyn was first elected leader in 2015.

They include Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed who quit Parliament entirely to take up new jobs.

Frank Field quit the parliamentary party last year in protest at the anti-Semitism scandal and now sits as an independent.

John Woodcock left the party accusing it of ‘rigging’ an inquiry into harassment claims against him. He was a harsh critic of Mr Corbyn and vowed never to help him enter No 10. 

‘Labour now pursues policies that would weaken our national security; accepts the narratives of states hostile to our country; has failed to take a lead in addressing the challenge of Brexit and to provide a strong and coherent alternative to the Conservatives’ approach; is passive in circumstances of international humanitarian distress; is hostile to businesses large and small; and threatens to destabilise the British economy in pursuit of ideological objectives.

‘For a Party that once committed to pursue a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect, it has changed beyond recognition. Today, visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are commonplace in and around the Labour Party.’

Ahead of today’s event Labour MPs started insisting they would never leave their party.

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said Labour had been his ‘political home’ for 27 years ‘under Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn – and it will remain so’.

His statement was endorsed by Alison McGovern – a leading member of the centrist Progress faction of Labour.

She said: ‘When I was growing up, if something good happened – not political – anything good – my Dad would describe it as a ‘Labour Gain’.

‘Can never turn my back on the fight to see Labour win.’

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: ‘I’ve no idea of the truth of what may happen today but I plead with colleagues at this late stage to stay.

‘The Labour Party needs a broad base, more importantly our constituents need a Labour government and a splinter only ever helps the Tories.’

The interventions suggest any breakaway will be met by fury from many of those who stay behind, even among those deeply opposed to Mr Corbyn.  

Corbyn ally and Unite leader Len McCluskey yesterday urged the rebels to make their move if they were going to.

Rumours have swirled for months about the prospect of a split – with the MPs mulling whether to sit as independents or even form a new centrist party.

Mr McClusksey told the BBC’s John Pienaar: ‘If you are going to leave, for God’s sake get on with it and stop pestering us through the media and through the TV.’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell struck a more conciliatory tone yesterday, pleading with the MPs to stay for fear it would help the Tories.

He told Marr: ‘It would be like the 1980s. My constituency in Hayes and Harlington, we had a Labour MP join the SDP and we lost the seat to the Conservatives. 

‘And it basically installed Mrs Thatcher in power for that decade.’ 

Mr McDonnell also defended an online ‘loyalty pledge’ that has seen Labour MPs facing pressure to back a commitment to ‘work for the achievement of a Labour-led government’ under whatever leadership.   

In a signal of a backlash against the splinter group, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said Labour had been his 'political home' for 27 years 'under Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn - and it will remain so'.

In a signal of a backlash against the splinter group, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said Labour had been his ‘political home’ for 27 years ‘under Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn – and it will remain so’.

Alison McGovern - a leading member of the centrist Progress faction of Labour - said: 'When I was growing up, if something good happened - not political - anything good - my Dad would describe it as a 'Labour Gain'.'

Alison McGovern – a leading member of the centrist Progress faction of Labour – said: ‘When I was growing up, if something good happened – not political – anything good – my Dad would describe it as a ‘Labour Gain’.’

Last night Labour MP Stephen Kinnock – linked by some to the rebel group – told BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour on Sunday: ‘The talk has been going on so long that I say with great regret that, yes, there probably will be some kind of splintering.

‘It just seems to have been in the rumour mill so long that it’s unlikely that wouldn’t be the outcome.’

Several Labour MPs have walked away from the party since Mr Corbyn was first elected leader in 2015.

They include Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed who quit Parliament entirely to take up new jobs.

Frank Field quit the parliamentary party last year in protest at the anti-Semitism scandal and now sits as an independent.

John Woodcock left the party accusing it of ‘rigging’ an inquiry into harassment claims against him. He was a harsh critic of Mr Corbyn and vowed never to help him enter No 10. 

John McDonnell (pictured) yesterday warned Labour MPs thinking of leaving that they could keep it out of a power for a decade if they take away votes in marginal seats

John McDonnell (pictured) yesterday warned Labour MPs thinking of leaving that they could keep it out of a power for a decade if they take away votes in marginal seats

Today’s event after it emerged up to a hundred MPs face the threat of a deselection battle.

LABOUR MPs FACING DESELECTION 

Ian Austin, Dudley North

Hilary Benn, Leeds Central

Luciana Berger,

Liverpool Wavertree

Ann Coffey, Stockport

Mary Creagh, Wakefield

Thangam Debbonaire,

Bristol West

Angela Eagle, Wallasey

Dame Louise Ellman,

Liverpool Riverside

Mike Gapes, Ilford South

Kate Hoey, Vauxhall

Darren Jones,

Bristol North West

Chris Leslie,

Nottingham East

Kate Osamor, Edmonton

Gavin Shuker, Luton South

Angela Smith, Penistone and Stocksbridge

Plans for a breakaway group have been accelerated by fears of a mass wave of challenges to sitting MPs.

Moderates believe party grandees including Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Dame Margaret Beckett will all face attempts to oust them, along with Labour frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Dan Carden.

It is anticipated that around a quarter of the 100 MPs expected to be subject to a contest will lose, removing them as Labour candidates for the next election.

Those seen as most at risk include Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith, who are all thought to be considering quitting the party as part of an imminent split. 

Others believed to have little chance of surviving deselection challenges include former party leadership candidates Mary Creagh and Angela Eagle, Commons Brexit committee chairman Hilary Benn, leading Brexiteer Kate Hoey and former international development spokesman Kate Osamor.

The deselection process does not usually happen until much nearer the next election, but Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby has already started discussions on setting the timetable – raising fears it could start within months. 

Many of those facing the prospect of deselection have warned they will stand as independents if they are removed.

Moderates believe party grandees including Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Dame Margaret Beckett will all face attempts to oust them, along with Labour frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Dan Carden.

Moderates believe party grandees including Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Dame Margaret Beckett will all face attempts to oust them

Moderates believe party grandees including Ed Miliband (left), Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper (right) and Dame Margaret Beckett will all face attempts to oust them

Moderates believe party grandees including Dame Margaret Beckett (pictured) will all face attempts to oust them

Moderates believe party grandees including Dame Margaret Beckett and Harriet Harman (pictured) will all face attempts to oust them

Moderates believe party grandees including Dame Margaret Beckett (left) and Harriet Harman (right) will all face attempts to oust them

A number of Labour MPs including Mr McDonnell, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted their support for the pledge. 

Dame Margaret told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday it would be ‘a mistake’ for the MPs to go.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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