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20 December 2018

Ivan Lewis resigns from the Labour Party

Lewis cited the handling of his sexual harassment case and the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as the reasons for his exit.

By Stephen Bush

Ivan Lewis, the Labour MP for Bury South has resigned from the Labour Party, citing the handling of allegations of sexual harassment against him and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as the grounds for his decision.

As far as Labour’s handling of allegations of sexual harassment go, it is another embarrassing failure for the party’s creaking processes. Three Labour MPs have had the whip suspended pending investigation of such claims: Luton North MP and longstanding Corbyn-ally, Kelvin Hopkins, suspended in January 2018, Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, suspended in April 2018, and Lewis, suspended in November 2017, of whom the latter two are both Corbyn critics. All three men deny the allegations. None of the cases has been resolved, and now both Woodcock and Lewis have walked out of the Labour Party.

Lewis, like Woodcock, has said that he is happy to co-operate with a “truly independent process” to manage their allegations. Woodcock said in his resignation letter that he “will now seek to refer myself to an independent process”, but as yet, no such process has been set up and it is not clear that that one ever will be.

What does it mean for the still ongoing question of when, and how big, any organised breakaway from the Labour Party would be? As with Woodcock, Lewis has also blasted the Labour leadership’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism in its ranks, and like Woodcock, he has accused Jeremy Corbyn of an “anti-Western” worldview. These are sentiments that are shared by a number of Labour MPs who are not themselves the subject of ongoing investigations of sexual harassment, and even those MPs with doubts about the messenger will find it hard to entirely ignore the message.

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