Seven MPs leave Labour Party in protest against Corbyn's leadership
LONDON A group of MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party broke away yesterday in protest against leader Jeremy Corbyn's support for Brexit and his failure to stamp out anti-Semitism.
The seven MPs included Mr Chuka Umunna, who has led a campaign for a second referendum that could stop Brexit and was once seen as a potential leader of the centre-left party.
Mr Umunna called for a centrist "alternative" in British politics as the rebel MPs complained about the far-left turn the party had taken under veteran socialist Corbyn.
"The bottom line is this - politics is broken, it doesn't have to be this way, let's change it," Mr Umunna said at a hastily-arranged press conference.
The seven MPs will form a breakaway independent group in Parliament, undermining Mr Corbyn as he attempts to steer the party through the highly divisive issue of Brexit.
Many Labour voters, particularly in northern England, chose to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum - but a majority of Labour MPs and members supported staying in.
The rebellion is unlikely to make a major difference in crucial upcoming votes on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal but the move was welcomed by pro-EU forces.
Mr Vince Cable, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, was "open to working with like-minded groups and individuals in order to give the people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU".
Mr Corbyn said he was "disappointed" by his MPs' decision.
"Now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all," he said, pointing to the party's strong result in the last general election in 2017.
He has come under fire for failing to push for a second referendum. He has instead called on Mrs May to negotiate a customs union with the EU to ease trade ties after Brexit.He has also been criticised for months for his handling of cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and his own past associations with Palestinian militants. - AFP