UK Labour MPs quit over antisemitism, Brexit

Luciana Berger MP and six other MPs announce their resignation from the Labour Party. Photo: EPA/Vickie Flores

JEWISH MP Luciana Berger was among seven Labour MPs in the UK who this week resigned from the party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of complaints surrounding antisemitism and Brexit.

Berger, alongside Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith today announced they would be jumping ship at a press conference “relating to the future of British politics”.

Berger said, “I cannot remain in a party that I have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally antisemitic.

“It was nearly a year ago that we saw the unprecedented event of a minority community – the Jewish community – taking to Parliament Square to demonstrate against the Labour party.

“And yet since then, despite the mountain of evidence, we have only seen the situation of racism against Jewish people get worse.

“The leadership has wilfully and repeatedly failed to address hatred against Jewish people within its ranks.

“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.”

The seven MPs said they will continue to serve in Parliament under the newly formed Independent Group.

This represents the biggest split in the party since four MPs, known as the Gang of Four, left to form the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.

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 and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.

“Labour won people over on a program for the many not the few – redistributing wealth and power, taking vital resources into public ownership, investing in every region and nation, and tackling climate change.

“The Tories are bungling Brexit while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan. When millions face the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”

The Jewish Labour Movement said, “It’s deeply regrettable that the leadership of the Labour party’s failure to tackle antisemitism has precipitated the resignation of our parliamentary chair, Luciana Berger MP and others.

“Countless Jewish Labour Party members have resigned in these last few years in protest at the abject failure of the party to address a growing culture of antisemitism, obfuscation and denial. It will be for our members to decide what they, and we, do next.”

British Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said, “In a searing indictment of the Labour leadership both Luciana Berger MP and Mike Gapes MP accused the party of being institutionally antisemitic.

“In the light of the horrific abuse aimed at Jewish MPs, we stand in solidarity with all those who have been targeted. Labour has failed to deal with antisemitism since the Jewish community’s Enough is Enough demonstration called on the Labour leadership to act against this racism.

“This is a moment of great shame for the Labour Party and a tragedy for the thousands of Jews who have supported the party for generations.”

MATHILDE FROT/UK JEWISH NEWS