- Joan Ryan MP has quit the Labour Party and joined the newly formed Independent Group.
- Ryan, a former government whip, cited leader Jeremy Corbyn’s response to antisemitism in the party and Labour’s stance on Brexit in a letter outlining her decision to leave.
- She is the eighth Labour MP to quit and join the Independent Group.
- More Labour MPs are expected to quit in the next few weeks.
LONDON – An eighth Labour MP has resigned from the party and joined the newly formed Independent Group.
Joan Ryan, the member of Parliament for Enfield North, quit Jeremy Corby’s Labour on Tuesday evening, citing antisemitism within the party and Labour’s stance on Brexit.
“Over the past three years, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has become infected with the scourge of anti-Semitism,” she wrote in a statement.
“[Labour] is playing games with Brexit, with the very real prospect that we crash out of the EU without a deal … And it is developing a cult around the leader, replacing Labour’s traditional message of openness, hope and optimism with an all-consuming narrative founded on rage, betrayal and the hunt for heretics.”
The departure of Ryan, a seasoned MP and former government whip, comes a day after seven other Labour MPs quit the party following months of tension and disagreement over the leadership’s handling of Brexit and hundreds of allegations of antisemitism against party members.
The seven – Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, and Ann Coffey – told a press conference in central London that they were quitting Labour to become independent MPs, operating under the name the “Independent Group.”
It is the biggest Labour split since a handful of senior figures walked away from the party in 1981 to form a centre-left party called the Social Democrat Party.
“British politics is now well and truly broken,” Chris Leslie, one of the seven departing MPs, said at the press conference on Monday morning. “The evidence of Labour’s betrayal [on Brexit] is now clear for all to see.”
Another Labour MP, former minister Ian Austin, has said that he is considering quitting the party over antisemitism.
Responding to the news of the split on Monday, Labour leader Corbyn said he was “disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election.”
Labour has also announced plans to give the British public the power to trigger by-elections in constituencies where MPs have quit the parties for who they were elected. Currently, the law only allows constituents to “recall” MPs who are sentenced to prison, suspended from Parliament for two weeks, or found guilty of making a misleading claim.
Here’s Joan Ryan’s full statement:
After 4 decades, I have made the terribly difficult decision to resign from the Labour Party. It is the greatest honour of my life to represent the people of #EnfieldNorth. I will continue to represent and speak up for them as a member of the @TheIndGroup of MPs #ChangePolitics pic.twitter.com/W8UEsJG7Rh
— Joan Ryan MP (@joanryanEnfield) February 19, 2019
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