Jess Phillips: Corbyn must ‘move every sinew in his body’ to change Labour
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Labour SplitLeader urged to take action

Jess Phillips: Corbyn must ‘move every sinew in his body’ to change Labour

Birmingham politician bemoans fact that Jewish MP Luciana Berger felt she had to resign from the party on Monday

Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker after they announced their resignations. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker after they announced their resignations. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn should “move every sinew in his body” to change Labour after the resignation of seven MPs from the party, a Labour MP has said.

Jess Phillips, who represents Birmingham Yardley, urged the Labour leader to take heed of the politicians’ reasons for quitting, warning reacting with bitterness could cause the party to “burst apart”.

Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie and Luciana Berger joined Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey in walking out of the party on Monday, condemning Mr Corbyn’s stance on Brexit as well as his handling of the antisemitism issue, in potentially the most significant split in British politics for a generation.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ms Phillips said what happened next would depend on whether the party chose “kindness and healthy self-criticism or instead choose to go to war”.

She wrote: “If Jeremy Corbyn wants to repair the party so it can fight the worst Tory government for many decades, he would look at Luciana Berger declaring that, as a Jewish woman, she cannot stay in an institutionally racist party and move every sinew in his body to change it.

“He would listen to each and every one of the now ex-Labour MPs when they say that the public are worried about feeling politically homeless, and he would build them a home, not a student union.

“Politics is about, and for, all the people in this country, not a tiny clique on the hard Left who want to prove that they are the best and who believe that if you’re not in their gang then you belong in the bin.”

Ms Phillips said she remained in Labour because she still believed its core values were central to what it was all about – but warned her loyalty was “not blind”.

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry branded the MPs’ resignations a “distracting and divisive exercise” and said the party should unite to keep the Conservatives out of power.

“This is what our entire party should be focused on, not this distracting and divisive exercise from some of our MPs,” she said, writing in the Mirror.

“These MPs need to be politely asked if they plan to put up candidates in Labour-Tory marginals and split the Labour vote.

“If they do, the only effect their actions will have is to keep the Tories in power for another generation, and make a Tory Brexit more likely, not less.”

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