- Frank Field resigns from Labour party saying it is is now a “force for antisemitism.”
- The rebel MP said he will now serve as an independent as he does not want to be seen as part of a “racist” party.
- Friends of Field have told Business Insider that he has urged colleagues to take similar action.
- His departure comes as around a dozen Labour MPs consider splitting from the party.
LONDON – Frank Field MP has resigned from the Labour whip, in a major blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying that Labour is now seen as “racist” and a “force for antisemitism” in British politics.
Field, who sent a letter explaining his decision to Labour Chief Whip Nick Brown, said he was resigning the whip as there was now a “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation,” in the party.
The Labour MP said there was now a “thuggish” and “bullying” element within the party which Corbyn had failed to tackle, both in relation to allegations of anti-semitism and on other issues, and now will sit as an independent MP.
Deputy Leader Tom Watson said Field’s resignation must be a “major wake-up call” for the party.
“This is a serious loss to the party and I deeply regret Frank’s decision,” Watson said.
“It reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us. It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.”
A Labour party spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn thanks Frank Field for his service to the Labour party.
A senior Labour source told Business Insider that “Frank has been looking for an excuse to resign for some time.”
They also said it would not be possible for Field to remain in the party having resigned the whip, despite his intentions to do so.
Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party Chair, said Field’s decision was a “damning indictment of Jeremy Corbyn’s total inability to take action against bullying and anti-semitic racism within Labour.”
Lewis MP added: Despite promising a ‘kinder politics,’ time and time again Corbyn has allowed people to get away with doing and saying things which have no place in public life.
“If other Labour MPs don’t follow Frank Field’s example, they are continuing to endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s abject failure to act.”
Field’s position was already in doubt after he lost a motion of no confidence among his constituency Labour party last month after backing the government’s position on a crucial Brexit vote in the House of Commons.
However, Field said in his letter to Brown said he would seek to regain the party whip if and when the leadership tackled the problems in the party.
“I am writing with considerable sadness to inform you of my intention to sit as an Independent Labour member of Parliament. I am resigning the whip for two principal reasons,” Field wrote.
“The first centres on the latest example of Labour’s leadership becoming a force for anti-semitism in British politics. This latest example, from last week, comes after a series of attempts by Jeremy to deny that past statements and actions by him were anti-semitic. Britain fought the second world war to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack. The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values. It saddens me to say that we are a racist party. The issue alone compels me to resign the whip.
“The second reason is that a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation now reigns in too many parts of the Party nationally and is sadly manifest within my own Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Birkenhead. This is, I fear, just one example of a phenomenon that has tightened its grip on CLPs across the country and is being driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour party membership.
Read Frank Field’s full resignation letter
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