An eighth Labour MP has announced she is quitting the party and will join the Independent Group in the House of Commons.
Joan Ryan, who represents Enfield North, blasted the party leadership’s “dereliction of duty in the face of this evil” as she hit out over a failure to tackle anti-Semitism.
Joining the new Independent Group (TIG), Ryan was another of the Labour breakaway MPs to underline her personal story and working class background as she tore strips out of Jeremy Corbyn’s stewardship of the party.
“I learned from my mum and dad the dignity of work and the evil of racism and prejudice,” she said, adding she joined the Labour Party to “stand up to racism in all its forms”.
“Over the past three years, however, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism,” she said. “This problem simply did not exist in the party before his election as leader.”
She added: “I have been horrified, appalled and angered to see the Labour leadership’s dereliction of duty in the face of this evil.”
Ryan will join Luciana Berger, Chuka Ummuna, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey in walking out on Corbyn’s Labour to sit as independent MPs.
It comes as there remains just 38 days before the UK is due to leave the EU, with scores of Corbyn’s backbenchers demanding a second referendum.
In her press statement, Ryan picked out “courageous” Berger and “stalwart allies such as Tom Watson”, the deputy Labour leader whose response to the initial breakaway on Monday targeted the “tragedy” of the hard left.
The MP also took aim at Corbyn’s reluctance to condemn Vladimir Putin despite the widespread belief the Russian state was behind the Salisbury poisoning.
Describing Putin as the “head of a country which launched a chemical weapons attack on British soil”, she said “Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly refused to blame the Russian state”.
Ryan concludes her statement by hitting out at Theresa May’s “crippling hard Brexit” and says: “Jeremy Corbyn and the Stalinist clique that surrounds him offers no real opposition to any of this, instead they are too busy purging their perceived ideological enemies within and obsessing over issues that are of little interest to the British people.”
It comes after a stormy Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting on Monday in which high-profile Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy told colleagues Berger had faced “constructive dismissal” as a Labour MP in the wake of the anti-Semitism row in Labour.
Berger, who represents Liverpool Wavertree, has faced months of anti-Semitic abuse. Members of her local party had tabled, and later withdrew, a motion of no-confidence in her.
Speaking at a conference of manufacturers in London on Tuesday, Corbyn said he was “disappointed” the seven had decided to leave the party.
“I hope they recognise that they were elected to parliament on a manifesto that was based around investment in the future, was based around a more equal and fairer society and based around social justice,” he said.
“They were elected to carry out those policies, they decided to go somewhere else and I regret that because I want our party to be strong, I want our party to be united around the policies that we have put forward.”
A Sky Data online poll of 1,034 voters on February 19 put the Independent Group in third place across Britain on 10%, ahead of Liberal Democrats on 9%, Ukip on 6% and the Greens on 4%. Conservatives were leading on 32% to Labour’s 26%.
The poll suggested that the new group could eat into the support of both main parties, with 37% of those who said they would back the IG in an election having voted Labour and 27% Conservative in 2017, while another 24% said they did not vote.