Doncaster MPs pledge support to Labour as seven quit in protest against Jeremy Corbyn

Doncaster MPs Ed Miliband and Caroline Flint have pledged their support to the Labour party after seven of the party’s MPs quit in protest at leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.

Monday, 18th February 2019, 11:43 am
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 11:47 am

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey all quit the party this morning and will sit in Parliament as an independent group.

The group have said that their decision to leave was because of Mr Corbyn’s tackling of anti-Semitism within the party as well as Labour’s handling of Brexit.

Doncaster MPs pledge support for Labour

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However, both Doncaster North MP Mr Miliband and Don Valley MP Ms Flint have both pledged their allegiance to Labour in the wake of the resignations.

Mr Miliband tweeted: “I deeply regret the decision of my former colleagues to leave Labour.

“Labour's values are still my values and a Labour government is the best hope for the country we need.

“Labour must and will continue to be a broad church as it has always been.”

Meanwhile, Ms Flint tweeted: “2019 - 40 years as a Labour Party Member.

“In 1979, as a working class teenager who’d never met an MP, I can’t boast that my family were political and part of Labour and trade union aristocracy.

“But @UKLabour spoke to my values and hopes for a better country. It still does.”

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to stay.

Mr Corbyn said he was "disappointed" the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that "inspired millions" at the 2017 election.

The MPs are not launching a new political party - they will sit in Parliament as the Independent Group.

But Chuka Umunna said they had "taken the first step" and urged other Labour MPs - and members of other parties - to join them in "building a new politics".

"It is time we dumped this country's old fashioned politics and created an alternative that does justice to who we are today and gives this country a politics fit for the here and now - the 21st Century," he said at a launch event in central London.

Chris Leslie said Labour under Mr Corbyn had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left".

Mike Gapes said: "I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party."

He added that it was "increasingly clear that prominent figures in the Corbyn Labour leadership do not want to stop Brexit".

In a statement, Mr 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 programme 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 Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible plan."