Seven Labour lawmakers quit Britain’s main opposition party on Monday over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism, saying Labour had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.”
The departure of the small group of lawmakers underlines the mounting frustration with Corbyn’s reluctance to change his Brexit strategy and start campaigning for a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
.@MikeGapes says he is quitting Labour because "it is now a racist, anti-Semitic party", and "complicit in facilitating #Brexit"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) 18 February 2019
More on Labour resignations: https://t.co/unN8CNrMTf pic.twitter.com/K4xri7aHGU
With only 39 days until Britain leaves the EU in its biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years, divisions over Brexit have fragmented British politics, breaking down traditional party lines and creating new coalitions across the country’s left/right divide.
“The Labour party that we joined that we campaigned for and believed in is no longer today’s Labour Party. We did everything we could to save it, but it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left,” lawmaker Chris Leslie told a news conference.
“Evidence of Labour’s betrayal on Europe is now visible for all to see. Offering to actually enable this government’s Brexit, constantly holding back from allowing the public a final say.”
The seven lawmakers were: Luciana Berger, Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey. They will continue to sit as lawmakers in parliament under the banner ‘The Independent Group’.
A Labour source close to the group, said Monday’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.
Corbyn said in a statement: “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.”