Seven members of British Parliament — Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, and Ann Coffey — resigned from the Labour party Monday over concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, forming their own contingent, the Independent Group.
Berger, Labour’s most high-profile Jewish member, called the party “institutionally anti-Semitic” and accused it of “a culture of bullying, bigotry and, intimidation,” saying she is now “embarrassed and ashamed” to be a member.
Leslie said the party has been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.”
In a statement, the group charged that Labour, “once committed to pursue a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect,” has “changed beyond recognition,” and lamented that, “Today, visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are common-place in and around” the party.
Besides the party’s struggles with anti-Semitism, the seven lawmakers cited Corbyn’s weak handling of Brexit, policies damaging to Britain’s national security and economy, and lack of action on humanitarian distress.
“The values we hold mean that, in all conscience, we can have no confidence in the party’s collective leadership, competence or culture,” the group’s statement said. It stressed that more power should be delegated to local governments who have their finger on the pulse of their communities’ needs. It also said that economic advancement should occur on the basis of merit, asserting that “everybody can and should make a contribution to society and that contribution should be recognized.”
Corbyn said he was “disappointed” in the members’ decision.
“The Conservative Government is bungling Brexit,” Corbyn said, “while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan.”