Brex-split: 7 lawmakers quit Labour over EU, anti-Semitism
LONDON (AP) — Seven British lawmakers quit the main opposition Labour Party on Monday over its approach to issues including Brexit and anti-Semitism — the biggest shake-up in years for one of Britain’s major political parties.
The announcement ripped open a long-simmering rift between socialists and centrists in the party, which sees itself as the representative of Britain’s working class.
It’s also the latest fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which has split both of the country’s two main parties — Conservatives and Labour — into pro-Brexit and pro-EU camps.
Many Labour lawmakers have been unhappy with the party’s direction under leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who took charge in 2015 with strong grass-roots backing.
They accuse Corbyn of mounting a weak opposition to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the European Union, and of failing to stamp out a vein of anti-Semitism in the party.
The quitters represent a small fraction of Labour’s 256 lawmakers, or of the 650 total members of Parliament. But this is the biggest split in the party since four senior members quit in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party.
Labour leaders have admitted that Berger, who is Jewish, has been bullied by some members of her local party in northwest England.
Labour has been riven by allegations that the party has become hostile to Jews under Corbyn, a longtime supporter of the Palestinians.
Corbyn’s supporters accuse political opponents and right-wing media outlets of misrepresenting his views.