Group of seven MPs quit Labour in biggest split since SDP in 1980s

(L-R) Labour party MPs Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker listen as Chuka Umunna at a press conference in London on February 18, 2019 where they announced they were resigning from the party

A group of seven Labour MPs have resigned from the party to sit in the House of Commons as independents, in the most significant split to hit the party since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the early 1980s.

Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Chuka Umunna are among the MPs from the party's centrist wing who have been the loudest critics of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, his stance on Brexit and his handling of allegations of anti-Semitism.

At a press conference at London's County Hall to announce their move, Mr Leslie – a former shadow chancellor – said that Labour had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left", while Ms Berger said she had come to the "sickening" conclusion that the party is now "institutionally anti-Semitic".

Mr Corbyn said he was "disappointed" at their decision.

"I am 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," said the Labour leader in a statement.

"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.

"The Conservative Government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan. When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all."

Ms Berger accidentally introduced herself as "the Labour Party MP", before correcting herself and saying: "I am the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree".

She said: "This morning we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful, but necessary decision.

"We represent different parts of the country, we are of different backgrounds, we were born of different generations, but we all share the same values.

"From today, we will all sit in Parliament as a new independent group of MPs."

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The Independent Group
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The Independent Group
(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan, following a press conference for the Independent Group where the three Conservative MPs, Wollaston, Allen and Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 04/10/16 of Tory MP Heidi Allen, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group.
(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan, following a press conference for the Independent Group where the three Conservative MPs, Wollaston, Allen and Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 20/10/18 of MP Sarah Wollaston, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
Chuka Umunna and Angela Smith (foreground) with Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes and Chris Leslie (background) leave One Great George Street in London, following a press conference for the Independent Group where three Conservative MPs, Sarah Woollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 15/01/91 of MP Anna Soubry, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
Chris Leslie (standing), Angela Smith and Mike Gapes (right), who were among the seven MPs to quit Labour to sit as an independent group, in the seats next to the DUP during health questions in the House of Commons, London.
Conservative MPs (left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen, during a press conference at One Great George Street in London, following the announcement that they have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
File photo dated 05/06/2008 of Labour MP Joan Ryan, who has announced she is quitting the party and will join the Independent Group in the House of Commons.
Britain's Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna arrives at a news conference in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna makes an announcement he is leaving the party, in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's Labour Party MP Luciana Berger arrives at a news conference in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Labour's Brexit stance and its handling of antisemitism has resulted in seven lawmakers leaving the party.
REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT Britain's Labour Party MP Gavin Shuker makes an announcement he is leaving the party, in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Former Labour party MPs Ann Coffey (Centre L), and Chuka Umunna arrive to speak at a press conference in London on February 18, 2019, where they and colleagues announced their resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of a new independent group of MPs. - Seven MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party on Monday announced they were breaking away and forming an independent group in protest at the party's support for Brexit and its failure to stamp out anti-Semitism. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Chuka Umunna, U.K. lawmaker, gestures while speaking during a news conference announcing his resignation from the main U.K. opposition Labour Party in London, U.K., on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Umunna is one of seven members of Parliament saying they will stand as independents after quitting the Labour Party over issues including Brexit and antisemitism. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Labour party MP Luciana Berger (C), arrives with MPs Chris Leslie (3R), Angela Smith (2R) and Gavin Shuker, to speak at a press conference in London on February 18, 2019, where they announced their resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of a new independent group of MPs. - Seven MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party on Monday announced they were breaking away and forming an independent group in protest at the party's support for Brexit and its failure to stamp out anti-Semitism. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Labour MP Angela Smith who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Mike Gapes who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker and and who will be known as the Independent Group. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Labour MP Chukka Umunna announces his resignation from the Labour Party at a press conference on February 18, 2019 in London, England. Chukka Umunna MP along with Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Anne Coffey and Mike Gapes have announced they have resigned from the Labour Party and will sit in the House of Commons as The Independent Group of Members of Parliament. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MPs (left to right) Chris Leslie (Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, (both hidden left), Gavin Shuker, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna speaks during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London where, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey, announced his resignation from the Labour Party and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group.
Luciana Berger MP arrives at a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London where she announced her resignation from the Labour party and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group, with six other Labour MPs who have also resigned today.
Luciana Berger stands with other Labour MPs, (left to right) Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Gavin Shuker, following a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, where they and Angela Smith and Ann Coffey, resigned from the party to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Angela Smith leaves County Hall in Westminster, London where she announced her resignation from the Labour party, and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, with six other Labour MPs who have also resigned today.
Labour MP Luciana Berger following a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, where along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker, resigned from the party to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Luciana Berger speaks as she announces her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker, and the formation of a splinter group which will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Chuka Umunna after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons.
Labour MPs Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker, listen to Chuka Umunna answering questions, after they and Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Chris Leslie announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Mike Gapes who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker and and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Ann Coffey who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Gavin Shuker and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Gavin Shuker who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Angela Smith who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris LeslieAngela Smith and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
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Ms Berger said she had become "embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party".

"I have not changed. The core values of equality for all, opportunity for all, anti-racism against all and social justice – the values which I hold really dear and which led me to join the Labour Party as a student almost 20 years ago – remain who I am.

"And yet these values have been consistently and constantly violated, undermined and attacked, as the Labour Party today declines to my constituents and our country before party interests.

"I cannot remain in a party which I have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic."

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