Seven Labour lawmakers have quit Britain’s main opposition party over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism.
The angry MPs said Monday that the party had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left”.
Analysts say the departure of the small group of lawmakers underlines the growing frustration with Mr. Corbyn’s reluctance to change his Brexit strategy and start campaigning for a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
With only thirty-nine days until Britain leaves the EU in its biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than forty years, divisions over Brexit have fragmented British politics. It has broken down traditional party lines, creating new coalitions across the country’s left/right divide.
“The Labour party that we joined that we campaigned for and believed in is no longer today’s Labour Party. We did everything we could to save it, but it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left,” lawmaker Chris Leslie told a news conference on Monday.
The seven lawmakers were: Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey. They will however continue to sit as MPs under the banner ‘The Independent Group’.
Labour won 262 seats at the 2017 election.
A Labour Party source close to the group told Reuters that Monday’s departures could trigger a second wave of resignations, underlining the frustration over Mr. Corbyn’s approach to Brexit.
In a statement, the Labour leader said he was “disappointed that these MPs (Members of Parliament) have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election”.
Mr. Corbyn has so far stuck to Labour policy to keep the option of a second referendum “on the table” if Prime Minister Theresa May’s government fails to secure a deal with Brussels that can pass through parliament.
His first choice is a new election, but he has also called on Mrs. May to change her “red lines” and for her to accept his plan for a permanent customs union with the EU. It’s a demand that the PM has so far refused to accept.
Britain’s July 2016 referendum, which saw 52 percent of voters back leaving the EU, has deeply divided both of the country’s main parties.