Joan Ryan is eighth MP to quit Labour and join the Independent Group
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Joan Ryan is eighth MP to quit Labour and join the Independent Group

Chair of Labour Friends of Israel who was threatened with deselection in recent months makes the 'terribly difficult decision' to join the new Independent Group.

Joan Ryan MP
Joan Ryan MP

Joan Ryan is the eighth Labour MP to quit the party to join the breakaway Independent Group in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Former minister Joan Ryan, who chairs Labour Friends of Israel, said that Mr Corbyn was not fit to be prime minister and the party had become “infected with the scourge of antisemitism” under his leadership.

Her announcement came as Labour launched a consultation on changes to allow voters to force MPs to seek re-election if they swap parties.

The proposed new right to recall comes after the launch on Monday of the Independent Group by seven ex-Labour MPs including former shadow ministers Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Chris Leslie.

Members of the new group have indicated they will resist demands from Labour bigwigs, including John McDonnell, to step down and seek a fresh mandate from voters in a by-election. Ryan lost a vote of no confidence in her constituency in September 2018.

Ms Ryan, who has represented Enfield North since 1997 with a break from 2010-15 and served as a minister in Tony Blair’s government, made clear she is hoping for further defections.

In a letter to constituents, she said she hoped her actions would act as a “wake-up call” and “others will join us”.

Ms Ryan said that under Mr Corbyn, Labour had developed a “cult around the leader”, driven by an ” all-consuming narrative founded on rage, betrayal and the hunt for heretics”.

On the issue of anti-Semitism, she said: “I have been appalled and angered by the Labour leadership’s dereliction of duty in the face of this evil.”

And she added: “Jeremy Corbyn has enabled and allowed a toxic culture to develop in too many parts of the Labour Party.

“And I can’t be a part of it any longer. Which is why, with a heavy heart, I have left it.”

Following her resignation, Labour Friends of Israel said in a statement, it “respects the very difficult decision” taken by all eight, including “our brave and principled” chair.”

They add that, “under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, anti-Jewish hatred and demonisation of the world’s only Jewish state has been allowed to flourish. The politics of the hard left represent a threat to the security of the UK, to our traditional alliances and to the stability of the Middle East and its only democracy, the state of Israel.”

LFI also says it will keep working to “promote a two-state solution, to combat anti-Zionist antisemitism and counter the delegitimisation of Israel.

“Joan Ryan MP will remain in her position as our Parliamentary Chair.”

More to follow… 

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