Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire after pulling out of Brexit crisis talks with Theresa May because members of the breakaway Independent Group were present.
The Labour leader was due to take part in the meeting, together with the Westminster leaders of the other opposition parties, in the Prime Minister’s office in the House of Commons.
He was said to have walked away when MP Chuka Umunna – one of eight Labour MPs to quit the party join the new Independent Group – arrived with former Tory Anna Soubry.
A startled Mr Umunna said it was an “extraordinary” way for the leader of the Opposition to behave at a time of national crisis.
“We are in a crisis situation where the people of this country expect their representatives from different political groupings in Parliament to come together and actually try to chart a way forward,” he told Sky News.
“I think it is really extraordinary for the leader of the Opposition to behave in this very juvenile kind of a way when the moment demands that we all step up and engage in some serious dialogue to find a way through this chaos.
“But he will have to explain his actions.”
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, gentler politics was found wanting this evening as he stomped out of the meeting with the Prime Minister before it began, rather than breathe the same air as Chuka Umunna.
— Vince Cable (@vincecable) March 20, 2019
Mr Corbyn was also sharply criticised by Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable, who was at the meeting.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, gentler politics was found wanting this evening as he stomped out of the meeting with the Prime Minister before it began, rather than breathe the same air as Chuka Umunna,” he wrote on Twitter.
A Labour spokesman said it was “not the meeting that had been agreed” and the “terms were broken”.
— Labour Press Team (@labourpress) March 20, 2019
The party said Mr Corbyn subsequently spoke to Mrs May separately.
Afterwards, the Labour leader turned his fire on the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister has shown tonight she is in complete denial about the scale of the crisis we are facing and unable to offer the leadership the country needs,” he said.
“To continue to bring back her damaging and twice rejected deal without significant changes, while threatening a no deal outcome ruled out by MPs, is unacceptable and reckless.”