seven parliamentarians resign from Labor to denounce the complacency of Jeremy Corbyn

Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Chuka Umunna, London, 18 February 2019.
Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Chuka Umunna, London, 18 February 2019. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

On Monday 18 February, Brexit caused its first crack in the panorama of British political parties. Seven Labor MPs who share their hostility to the exit of the European Union and the leader of the far-left party, Jeremy Corbyn, announced at a press conference their resignation from the Labor party. For now, I'm not a new party and will sit at the Commons under the label of "independents". But the parallel is tantalizing with the defection, on March 26, 1981, of four former labor ministers opposed to the Labor line of the era: leaving the European Economic Community, a forerunner of the European Union.

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"Everyone can see Labor's betrayal of Brexit" Mike Gapes, one of the resigners, who accuses Mr. Corbyn of "To ease" the exit of the EU. Another dissident, the deputy Luciana Berger, targeted by anti-Semitic attacks for denouncing the party's softness in this regard, assured that she had "Shame" stay in a party "Institutionally anti-Semitic". For her part, Angela Smith has proposed her popular origins and says she is tired of being "Treated with condescension by left-wing intellectuals convinced that being poor and of proletarian descent returns to be touched by grace".

But they mostly agree that Brexit has made the British system in which only two parties dominate inoperative political life. Supporters, such as more than 80% of the members, a second referendum to question the Brexit, do not feel represented by Jeremy Corbyn. The centralists, some are also critical of the job renationalization program.

"It is time to get rid of this obsolete political system and create an alternative," said Chuka Umunna

Once seen as a possible party leader, the ambitious Euroophile Chuka Umunna, 40, appears as the rebel leader. He believes that the current partisan system "It has become the problem" placing partisan interests "Above the national interest". An allusion to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to consider a transversal majority on Brexit for fear of destroying their respective organizations.

"It is time to get rid of this obsolete political functioning and create an alternative", Umunna added by inviting other elected officials to join the sects: for now the group, which represents several regions of England, is not a party and does not intend to join the LibDems. ", The pro-European training in decline.

Many of the members of "A band of seven", while the English press has started naming them, they are in the crosshairs of Momentum, the pro-Corbyn faction of Labor. They live under the threat of being marginalized for the upcoming elections by local activists because of their critical positions towards the leadership.

"A desperately sad day"

On the announcement of their departure, they received online a burst of green wood from former comrades. On Twitter, the organization of young Laborers has included the words of the "red flag", the party's anthem: "Even if the cowards start and the traitors chuckle, we will defend the red flag." The seven dissidents want "Return to past policies, privatization programs, tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for bankslaughed Laura Parker, a Momentum executive, alluding to the refocusing on the power of Tony Blair's new party on power between 1997 and 2010, now unpopular. They offer no solution and do not have any support in the opinion.

Jeremy Corbyn has simply declared himself "Disappointed". He recalled the electoral success of his radical program in 2017, forgetting that today, despite the impasse of Brexit, Theresa May's bullfighters are a better mark than Labur in voting intentions. "It's a desperately sad day"commented the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, saying that he will not join the rebels. "The divided parties do not win the elections" noted Dave Prentis, leader of the Unison union.

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Already on Sunday, John McDonnell, veteran of Labor's left and right-wing man of Jeremy Corbyn, had tried to curb the refractory by reactivating the hypothesis of a second referendum. In particular, he recalled that in 1981 the schism that led Labor MPs to found the ephemeral Social Democratic Party (SDP) had only weakened the movement and helped Margaret Thatcher remain in power. The SDP was created by former ministers – not by the current seven rebels – and benefited from rapid subscription funding. The single-turn electoral system hampers the election of third-party deputies, but ultimately allows the latter to play the referees.

From this point of view, the opening of dissent within Labor seems to be a relatively good news for Theresa May. Unless the conservative party Europeanists – some of whom, like Anna Soubry, are already campaigning with the Labor rebels – have joined the latter. The Brexit divisions threaten to break both conservatives and Labor. And unless the legitimist reaction triggered by Labor at the beginning of the division prevented pro-Brexit Labor MPs from yielding to the Prime Minister's sirens and finally voting for the divorce agreement he negotiated with 39; EU.

Philippe Bernard (London, correspondent)

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