Ian Austin quits Labour: I’ve become ‘ashamed’ of the party under Corbyn
Labour SplitDudley MP resigns

Ian Austin quits Labour: I’ve become ‘ashamed’ of the party under Corbyn

Dudley North politician cites party's antisemitism row as a main driver for resigning, but says he has no plans to join the Independent Group

Ian Austin MP
Ian Austin MP

Ian Austin has announced he is leaving Labour citing Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism, which he said has made him “ashamed” of the party.

The Dudley North MP said he was quitting the “broken” party, because under Corbyn  there was a “culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance”

But the former minister said he had no plans to join his eight former colleagues in the Independent Group they established this week.

In an interview with the Express & Star newspaper he 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.”

He added that “I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister”, and said he was “appalled at the offence and distress” the party had 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,” he said.

“The hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about antisemitism than it is on the antisemites.”

Mr Austin added that “the hard left is now in charge of the party” and “I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better”.

His resignation follows those of eight other MPs who quit Labour and formed the Independent Group. Among those initial MPs to leave the party was Luciana Berger, who claimed the party was “institutionally antisemitic” during her resignation.

Following Ian Austin’s decision to quit, she tweeted “I fully understand why Ian Austin has come to this difficult and painful decision.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: “Very sad to lose another colleague from the Labour team. It’s also personally hard to see a close friend take a decision of this magnitude.”

Earlier this week, he hit out at suggestions that MPs who defect from Labour should face recall by-elections, as being a “spiteful” move.

But Mr Austin said he had not spoken to the group, which also contains three ex-Tories.

“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.

Following his resignation, Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein said: “I want to commend the courage of my friend Ian Austin. Today he took the brave and difficult step in leaving the Labour Party. Ian, the son of a Holocaust survivor, has been unflinching in his support against growing antisemitism in this country. He joins other MPs who resigned on Monday and Joan Ryan, another stalwart ally of our community, on Wednesday. The Labour Party has forced allies like Ian and Joan to choose between their British values and anti-racism and a narrow partisanship that promotes anti-Jewish racism. They are both on the right side of history in saying loudly and clearly that neither of them will continue to be bystanders to the hate emanating from the Labour leadership.”

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl tweeted: “I stand in solidarity with Ian Austin MP who has resigned from Labour because he is “appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have caused to Jewish people”.

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