Veteran UK Labour Party lawmaker quits, citing anti-Semitism scandal

Geraldine Edwards
September 1, 2018

Mr Field quit the party's parliamentary group through a letter to chief whip Nick Brown on Thursday, saying the leadership was becoming "a force for anti-Semitism in British politics".

A Labour source said "Frank has been looking for an excuse to resign for some time" and, under party rules, he could not resign as a Labour MP and continue to be a member of the party.

He called on the leadership to demonstrate the party is "the great champion against racism" and "will not tolerate bullying and thuggery".

"I've made very clear that I'm not about to leave the Labour Party because of these people, but I'm afraid Frank Field isn't the first Labour MP to quit and at this rate he won't be the last".

He also said his complaints to the national party about it had been "met with silence" and such behaviour "is a cause for shame and is unacceptable to me".

"Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack", he wrote in a letter to the party's chief whip, a lawmaker responsible for making sure members of parliament vote in line with the party's position.

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I am writing with considerable sadness to inform you of my intention to sit as an Independent Labour Member of Parliament. Mr Field - a Eurosceptic who has backed the Government in several Brexit votes - lost a confidence motion in his constituency party a month ago.

"The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values", he added.

"It saddens me that we are increasingly seen as a racist party".

"He said I would like you to withdraw your letter".

Labour MP Wes Streeting (Ilford North) raised concern Mr Field "won't be the last" to resign.

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"I hope and I believe Jeremy will lead us into the next election and it is not true I'm a constant critic of Jeremy", said Mr Field. That Ms Reecejones should not be a member of the Party, let alone represent us in public positions, has been underscored by decisions taken by Wirral Council.

"The indications are that others may now follow where Frank Field has led".

Perhaps less helpfully for Field, he received a similarly glowing endorsement from Andrew Bridgen, who is known in Westminster as a staunch Brexiteer and one of the most outspoken figures on the right wing of the Conservative party.

The rebel MP said he will now serve as an independent as he does not want to be seen as part of a "racist" party.

The party's deputy leader, Tom Watson, said his decision was a "serious loss" that "reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us".

"If he stood as an independent I wager he would not get in, and one of the things he ought to be considering now is precipitating a by-election".

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I intend to continue to represent Birkenhead in Westminster, as I have had the honour to do so for nearly 40 years, and I will continue to do so as an Independent Labour Member.

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