Another British member of parliament has quit the opposition Labour Party, in the wake of seven lawmakers splitting to form the Independent Group in Parliament earlier this week. Those lawmakers cited disagreements over Brexit with Labour’s left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, and concerns over alleged anti-semitism within the party as their reasons for leaving the party. Late on Tuesday, Joan Ryan, MP for the London constituency of Enfield North and chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, tweeted that she was leaving the party because it had in her view “become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism.” In a strongly worded resignation letter, she blamed Corbyn for the current situation and said she could not “in good conscience support or represent a party which adopts such an attitude.” Late last year, Ryan’s constituency passed a motion of no confidence in her 94-92.
According to the Times, the motion pointed to her constant criticisms of Corbyn, saying Ryan had “fueled and indeed inflamed trial by media of the Labour leader.” Ryan, the motion said, behaved like “an independent MP in all but name.” Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday after Ryan’s resignation from the party, Labour MP Chris Williamson said that he had never known Labour to be “more united” than it was now, adding it was “regrettable that a minority of MPs” were out of step with the popular mood in the country. Though many within the party have publicly moved to criticize Ryan’s decision, her departure will likely fuel concerns that further resignations could follow in the weeks ahead. In a statement after the initial resignations Monday, 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 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,” Corbyn added. In the most recent election, Ryan saw her vote share increase substantially, along with a countrywide swing towards Labour, though in her own election material Ryan urged voters not to associate her with the Labour leader. While the Independent Group – as the collection of largely centrist ex-Labour MPs is currently called – has so far damaged the opposition party, attention has now turned to the ruling Conservatives. Three pro-EU Conservative MPs announced their resignations from the party on Tuesday to join the newly-formed group over disagreements with Prime Minister Theresa May regarding Brexit.
Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, and Anna Soubry have quit the Tory Party and will now sit with the other rebel Labour MPs on the opposition benches.
In a joint letter to the prime minister, the three MPs wrote: “We no longer feel we can remain in the party of a government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the ERG and DUP.” The pro-remain MPs accused May of not standing up to the hardline Brexiteers within her party, saying “Brexit has re-defined the Conservative party – undoing all the efforts to modernise it.” Launching the new breakaway group, its ringleader, Chuka Umunna, promised to dump “this country’s old fashioned politics,” and claimed the UK needed a political party “fit for the here and now” and that this was the “first step in leaving the tribal politics behind.”