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Labour And Conservatives Could See More MP Exits

21 February 2019 International News News

Labour and the Conservatives could face more resignations, with members of the new Independent Group saying they expect more MPs to join them.

Ex-Tory MP Heidi Allen told ITV’s Peston programme “a third” of Tory MPs were fed up with the party’s direction.

Tory MP Justine Greening said she would quit her party if it allowed a no-deal Brexit, while Labour’s Ian Austin said he was considering his position.

MPs from the new group say they stand for “the centre ground of politics”.

The group was set up by eight defecting Labour MPs unhappy about their party’s handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They were later joined by three pro-Remain Tories – who accuse the Conservative leadership of allowing right-wing hardliners to shape the party’s approach to Brexit and other matters.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “saddened” by his former colleagues’ comments, but denied the “relatively small hardcore” – namely the pro-Leave European Research Group – had taken over.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Conservative Party is, always has been and, in my view, must remain a very broad church.

“I understand their concerns, but I hope over time they will feel able to rejoin the party and help maintain that.”

Mr Corbyn has said he will not change Labour’s direction in response to the defections but has repeated that tackling anti-Semitism is a priority.

He has been accused by departing MPs, including Joan Ryan and Luciana Berger, of allowing a culture of “anti-Jewish racism” to flourish and for Jews to be “abused with impunity” by his supporters.

One of Mr Corbyn’s senior team, Barry Gardiner, apologised to the Jewish community in the House of Commons on Wednesday, saying it had “let them down”.

Mr Corbyn said he recognised the party had work to do to restore trust among the Jewish community, and needed to persuade people the party was its “ally” in the fight against anti-Semitism.

The party said it had suspended the membership application of left-wing firebrand Derek Hatton over Twitter comments he made about Israel in 2012.


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