Ian Austin has quit the Labour party this morning, in another blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
However, the Dudley North MP said he does not plan to join the Independent Group, an alliance of 11 Labour and Tory MPs who have abandoned their parties citing a “failure of British politics”.
Austin blamed Labour’s lurch to the hard left under Corbyn, calling the party “broken” in an exclusive interview with the Express & Star.
He is the ninth MP to quit Labour this week after seven MPs including Chuka Umunna, and Angela Smith left to form an independent alliance on Monday.
An eighth MP, Joan Ryan, quit on Wednesday as three prominent Tories also defected from the Conservative party.
Speaking to the Express & Star, Austin said: “The Labour party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take, but I have to be honest and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.”
Adding that he could “never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister”, Austin said he was “appalled at the offence and distress” caused to Jewish people under Corbyn’s leadership.
The other splitters also cited Labour’s antisemitism problem, claiming Labour had “wilfully failed to address hatred of Jewish people in its ranks”.
Labour called on Austin to give up his seat and fight a by-election, something it has called on the other defecting MPs to do.
“We regret that Ian Austin has left the Labour Party. He was elected as a Labour MP and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the people of Dudley decide who should represent them,” a Labour party spokesperson said.
It concludes a week of crisis for Britain's two biggest political parties, after Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “saddened” by the departures of Remainer MPs Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston.
The trio quit over May’s handling of Brexit, claiming former Ukip members had overwhelmed the party.
May responded by saying an “open, broad party” should always welcome new members “including those who have previously supported other parties”.
Downing Street has been put on red alert for fresh Tory rebellions if May fails to push her Brexit deal through parliament for a second time.
The Independents have claimed that more than 30 Conservative MPs could seek alternatives to May’s withdrawal agreement if it is voted down again, in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Co-chairman of the Independents, Andrew Percy, told the BBC that members of his group were “tired” of hard Brexiters in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group failing to back the Prime Minister.
Writing to government whips, he and co-chairman Simon Hart said: “Not only does this risk damaging the national interest, but also… we are putting in jeopardy the very thing many colleagues have spent decades campaigning for; our exit from the European Union.”