In Brief

Why Frank Field has resigned the Labour whip

Veteran MP criticises Jeremy Corbyn as anti-Semitism row engulfs party

Labour MP Frank Field has resigned from the party’s group in Parliament, warning that the party is becoming a “force for anti-Semitism”.

Field, who has held the seat of Birkenhead since 1979, said in a letter of resignation to chief Labour whip Nick Brown that he was quitting “for two principal reasons”.

“The first centres on the latest example of Labour’s leadership becoming a force for anti-Semitism in British politics,” the veteran MP wrote, citing what he claims were “a series of attempts by Jeremy [Corbyn] to deny that past statements and actions by him were anti-Semitic”.

“Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack,” Field added.

He cited as his second reason “a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation now reigns in too many parts of the Party nationally”.

Field, who remains a member of the Labour Party, will now sit as an “Independent Labour Member” for Birkenhead, becoming the third Labour MP to quit the party whip this year.

Labour sources in Parliament say the resignation could trigger a “full-scale existential crisis of the Labour Party”, amid reports of a “potential parliamentary breakaway by MPs furious at the party leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism”, according to The Independent.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said Field’s move was a “serious loss” to the party that “reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us.

“It is a major wake-up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature,” Watson warned in a statement.

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