Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

More expected to join new British centrist party as Labour MP quits

Joan Ryan becomes the latest MP to leave Labour over anti-Semitism row as three pro-EU Conservatives look set to follow suit

MP Joan Ryan said that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn 'is a man who’s presided over a culture of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel'. UK Parliament
MP Joan Ryan said that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn 'is a man who’s presided over a culture of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel'. UK Parliament

The reorganisation of British politics continued on Tuesday night as an eighth Labour MP quit the party to join the new Independent Group, and three Conservative MPs were on the verge of following suit.

Joan Ryan, MP for the London constituency of Enfield North since 1997, said she could not “be part of a party that allows racism to flourish” and called party leader Jeremy Corbyn “a danger” like Donald Trump.

“It’s obviously not a delight, it’s painful,” Ms Ryan said of leaving the party she joined in 1983.

“But it is a duty. I wasn’t elected as a Labour MP to watch this happen, and I have no choice but to stand up to it. For me this is a moral issue.”

She told The Times that Mr Corbyn “is a man who’s presided over a culture of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. And he has introduced into the Labour Party this issue. Anti-Semitism is now a scourge that infects the Labour Party.

“I’ve been a member for not short of four decades and we never had this problem before. It was never there before Jeremy Corbyn. Never did we have to discuss this. It wasn’t an issue. It’s come with his leadership.

“He’s responsible for this. Leadership is the only thing that could deal with it and he isn’t going to. Because of that, my view is he’s not fit for the office he’s in now, and I don’t think he’s fit to be prime minister of this country. I can’t say to my constituents, 'Vote for this man'.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Conservative Party whips were expecting Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, three Remain-supporting Conservative MPs, to leave.

The Independent Group would not confirm if the trio would be joining it, but the BBC quoted an insider saying Wednesday would be a “very busy day”.

The new party was formed on Monday when seven Labour MPs, including Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, resigned claiming it had done nothing to resolve anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Updated: February 20, 2019 04:58 PM

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