Streatham MP Chuka Umunna quits Labour Party to set up new Independent Group

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has joined six Labour colleagues in resigning from the party this morning.

The seven MPs formed a new party, called The Independent Group, and put their decision down to allegations of poor leadership toward Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism within Labour. 

Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, announced the split and said the new group would appeal to colleagues from all parties to consider the public’s best interests.

Mr Umunna, whose local party voted to change the rules to make it easier to deselect the incumbent MP, reached out to other parties in his speech.

He said: “We invite others to share our political values to join us – you might come from different political traditions but we invite you to leave your parties and help us find a new way forward.

“‘If you are sick and tired of politics as usual, well guess what, so are we.”

Later, he clarified his position, tweeting: “I became a political activist to serve my community and to change the country for the better.

“My decision today – which has been painful and difficult – is rooted in the values and principles which I have always held.”

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, said it was personally difficult for him to resign the whip, but was sickened that the Labour party had become a racist, anti-Semitic party.

And Ms Berger said: “I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Mr Corbyn responded by expressing his disappointment that the MPs have decided to split.

He said: “Now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”

The Young Labour twitter account replied within moments of the announcement with a post containing lines from the Labour party’s anthem, The Red Flag.

They tweeted: “Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here.”

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