Ian Austin quits Labour party but won't join Independent Group
He will not join the Independent Group
Dudley North MP Ian Austin has said he is quitting the Labour party, though he has no plans to join the newly formed Independent Group.
Austin cited Jeremy Corbyn's failure to tackle anti-semitism within the party as the main reason for his decision to quit the party, telling the Express and Star: "I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister.
"I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people. It is terrible that a culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics.
"The hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about antisemitism than it is on the antisemites.
"I think Jeremy Corbyn has completely changed what was a mainstream party into a completely different party with very different values.
"The hard left is now in charge of the party, they’re going to get rid of lots of decent mainstream MPs and I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better."
He clarified that he has not spoken to the Independent Group. "I think the Labour party is broken and clearly things have to change but that’s not what today is about, and I’ve not talked to them about that," he said.
I have decided to leave the Labour Party and I wanted to tell people in Dudley first. https://t.co/IaXSwDry06
— Ian Austin (@IanAustin1965) February 22, 2019
A total of 12 MPs have now quit their party this week, nine from Labour and three Conservatives.
On Monday, seven parliamentarians, including Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Chris Leslie, quit Labour citing anti-Semitism and "hard-left" policies and announced they would sit as part of the newly formed Independent Group. They were joined on Tuesday by Labour Friend of Israel chair Joan Ryan.
Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen then became the first Conservative MPs to quit and become Independent Group MPs on Wednesday.