Jeremy Corbyn warned more MPs could quit causing party split

Jeremy Corbyn has been warned that more Labour MPs could quit the party after seven Labour MPs left yesterday in a move described by Sky News as “potentially the most significant split in British politics for a generation”.

Following the departures yesterday, Ian Austin MP said others would “think hard” about leaving unless Labour addressed allegations of anti-Semitism.

During a “tense” and “heated” meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, chairman Ian Lavery faced “derision” when he said Corbyn is committed to rooting out anti-Semitism.

Austin said Lavery had failed to “demonstrate the leadership” and “understand the scale of the problem we have” with anti-Semitism. “If that is the best the leadership can do, I can see more people taking the same course of action,” he added.

The BBC’s political correspondent Ben Wright said MPs felt Lavery had “misjudged the mood” by delivering a “tub-thumping speech” about party pride.

In a video address, deputy leader Tom Watson said Corbyn must change direction to stop Labour splitting. Watson’s intervention, which The Times says “threatens a schism in the opposition”, saw him vow to pursue policies in the party’s “social democratic” tradition and push Corbyn to reshuffle his top team.

“I confess I feared this day would come,” he said. “And I fear now that unless we change, we may see more days like this.”

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey Labour quit yesterday in protest at what they described as a culture of “bullying and bigotry” in the party and frustration over the leadership’s approach to Brexit.

They have urged other Labour MPs – and members of other parties – to join them in “building a new politics”.

A Conservative minister and four Tory backbenchers are reportedly poised to defect to the Independent Group. A minister has told the Daily Telegraph the breakaway group members are “remarkably sensible people” and said he would join the new party if the Government presses ahead with a no-deal Brexit.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said a small number of Conservatives were considering their futures. Among the Tories said to be considering their future are Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, Antoinette Sandbach, Philip Lee and Justine Greening.


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