Corbyn and May to Face More Resignations, Says Newly Formed Independent Group

Ian Austin has become the ninth Labour MP to quit the party in a week of resignations.

The Dudley North MP cited the mishandling of antisemitism within the Party and what he sees as the ‘hard left’ takeover of Labour under Corbyn’s leadership as his reasons for leaving. He echoes the words of the eight other former Labour MPs, including Chukka Umunna and Luciana Berger, who also left the Party.

As of yet, he has not said that he will join his former colleagues in the newly formed Independent Group that has been coalescing disaffected Tory and Labour MPs all week.

Theresa May is facing threats of resignation from her own MPs in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Both Dominic Grieve, who has been an outspoken critic of Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, and Justine Greening have threatened to follow in the footsteps of their three former colleagues if the United Kingdom is to crash out of the EU.  Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston all announced that they would be joining the Independent Group earlier in the week.

MP for Leeds Central Hillary Benn has told The Gryphon in a statement that although he disagrees with the eight MPs decision to leave, he has called for ‘actions’ rather than words ‘in order to start rebuilding trust with the Jewish community’.

His statement is in line with the frontbench, with Corbyn saying in a twitter video posted on Wednesday night that he is ‘utterly determined to root out antisemitism from our party and our society’.

However, Joan Ryan, the eighth Labour MP to leave in favour of the Independent Group, branded the Labour Party in her resignation letter as ‘infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism’.

University of Leeds student and former Labour Party activist Tali Fraser has told The Gryphon that as a young, progressive Jewish woman she wants to return to the Party but won’t until there is a change in ‘leadership and culture alongside institutional reform on how complaints [of antisemitism] are dealt with’.

Critics of the Independent Group have refuted claims of Labour being an institutionally antisemitic party. Others see this as an outlet of frustrations with the left-wing Corbyn agenda. Momentum’s national coordinator Laura Parker has branded the new party a ‘Blairite-Tory coalition’ which looks to bring back to life ‘a dead agenda of privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts for the super-rich’.

Left wing commentators have pointed to what they see as the hypocrisy of the eight Labour MPs who stood for election on a manifesto of nationalisation and increased public spending, now joining forces with Conservatives who have openly backed the austerity measures of consecutive Tory governments.

Anna Soubry, in a press conference on Wednesday, defended the welfare cuts and austerity enacted by George Osborne under the coalition government, calling them ‘necessary’.  

Hillary Benn did not openly comment on the ideology of the new Independent Group but told us that the Labour Party is still the ‘best hope for change for the better in our country’.

Oliva McGhie

Image: [The Independent]