Seven MPs resign from UK Labour Party

LONDON (Reuters): A group of seven MPs have resigned from Britain’s Labour Party and will now sit in parliament as independent lawmakers.

The decision to leave the opposition party was announced Monday morning at a press conference held by resigning MPs Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Berger said the Labour Party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic”, adding that she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to remain in the party.

Leslie, for his part, said the party had been hijacked by the “machine politics of the hard left”.

He went on to assert that it would be “irresponsible” to allow party leader Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister, accusing the Labour Party leadership of adhering to a “narrow and outdated ideology”.

“To them, the world divides between oppressor and oppressed [and] class enemies, when in truth the modern world is more complicated than this,” he said.

Echoing Leslie, Shuker said the newly independent group “does not think every problem in the world has been created by the West”.

Shuker also said the nation’s political parties were “broken” and that there was “a complete absence of leadership” when the country most needed it.

“The Labour Party has turned its back on the British public, their hopes and ambitions,” he added.

Gapes, meanwhile, said he was “sickened” by alleged anti-Semitism within the party and “furious” that the Labour leadership was facilitating the U.K.’s departure from the EU.

“Jeremy Corbyn and those around him are on the wrong side on so many international issues, from Russia to Syria to Venezuela,” he said.

Umunna, one of the seven resigning MPs, said: “Politics is broken. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s change it.”

Reacting to the resignations, Corbyn said he was “disappointed” that the departing MPs had felt unable to continue working for policies that had “inspired millions” during the 2017 elections.

The raft of departures brings the total number of seats held by the main opposition party down to 249 from a previous 256, while raising the total number of independent MPs in the assembly to 15.