UK 18 February 2019 Who are the seven MPs leaving the Labour Party? Your guide to the members of the Independent Group. Getty Gang of Seven. Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Seven MPs have left the Labour party to form a new group in parliament. Sitting as the new Independent Group of MPs, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker are planning their next steps. Each politician explained their resignation at a press conference, and in a joint statement they have outlined their reasons for departure, saying their “progressive values” have been “abandoned by today’s Labour Party.” The statement mentions Labour’s foreign policy, economic policy, Brexit stance, ideological dogma and anti-Semitism (in all but name): “Labour now pursues policies that would weaken our national security; accepts the narratives of states hostile to our country; has failed to take a lead in addressing the challenge of Brexit and to provide a strong and coherent alternative to the Conservatives’ approach; is passive in circumstances of international humanitarian distress; is hostile to businesses large and small; and threatens to destabilise the British economy in pursuit of ideological objectives… Today, visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are common-place in and around the Labour Party.” But as my colleague Stephen points out today, and did so last summer when he reported that this split was inevitable, not all the MPs leaving want the same things or have the same motives. So who are they, and what do they want? 1) Chuka Umunna Who? Labour MP for Streatham since 2010. Shadow business secretary under Ed Miliband from 2011-2015. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Abortive attempt to stand for the leadership in 2015, after Labour lost the general election. Endorsed Liz Kendall – seen as the “Blairite” candidate who was ideologically furthest from Jeremy Corbyn – for the Labour leadership in 2015. Resigned from the shadow cabinet, citing differences of opinion with Corbyn on the Brexit referendum. Endorsed Corbyn’s challenger Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. What does he want? Umunna is a prominent campaigner for a “people’s vote”, despite initially opposing the idea of a second referendum. Now that it’s clear that the Labour leadership’s position on a second referendum cannot be shifted, the thought is that Remainer MPs like Umunna (who were originally holding off on splitting until March, to sort out Brexit) have nothing to lose. Umunna also has a strongly Remain constituency (Streatham is in the borough of Lambeth, which voted 78 per cent Remain). Anything else? Umunna has long opposed the Labour leadership on a swathe of issues, so it’s not just the matter of Europe that has compelled him to quit. 2) Chris Leslie Who? Labour/Co-op MP for Nottingham East since 2010, previously Labour MP for Shipley in 1997-2005. Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury under Ed Miliband from 2013-2015. Shadow chancellor from May 2015-September 2015. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Yvette Cooper for the Labour leadership in 2015. Resigned from the frontbench when Corbyn became leader. Endorsed Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. What does he want? Leslie has been critical of Corbyn from the start, calling the Corbynomic policies he unveiled in 2015 “starry-eyed” and “hard left”, warning of a return to 1980s divisions. He advocates a politics of the “centre ground” and was a loyal junior minister during the New Labour government, when he was MP for Shipley before losing his seat in 2005. Leslie has supported a soft Brexit with customs union and single market membership, and has criticised his party for not backing calls for a new EU referendum (with one option on the ballot paper of remaining) in the EU. Anything else? Leslie faces deselection from his local Labour Party, and lost a (non-binding) vote of no confidence held by the group last September. He has claimed the Nottingham East Constituency Labour Party has been infiltrated by the “intolerant hard left”. Because his local party would be unlikely to reselect him, it doesn’t look like he has much left to lose by leaving Labour. 3) Luciana Berger Who? Labour/Co-op MP for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010. Shadow climate change minister from 2010-2013, shadow public health minister from 2013-2015, shadow mental health minister from 2015-2016. Parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Andy Burnham for the Labour leadership in 2015. Quit the frontbench in 2016 during mass resignations in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. What does she want? Berger, parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, previously director of Labour Friends of Israel and member of the London Jewish Forum (both of which she stepped down from in 2010), has been a vocal critic of the Labour leadership’s attitude towards anti-Semitism in the party. She has received horrific anti-Semitic abuse as a Jewish public figure, with a number of the perpetrators being convicted and sentenced. She and her staff have been so victimised that she has been flanked by police protection officers, and they’ve had to give statements to the police. She has long been urging the leadership to stamp out “institutional anti-Semitism” in the party, and quit over “a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.” Berger supports a people’s vote, and has called on Labour to back one to break the Brexit logjam. Anything else? Berger faces deselection from her local Labour Party. Two motions of no confidence in her were submitted by members of the Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party (before being withdrawn), and the Corbynite left are prevalent and organised in general on Merseyside. 4) Ann Coffey Who? Labour MP for Stockport since 1992. Aide to Alistair Darling when he was chancellor in 2007-2010. Whip and shadow health spokesperson under Tony Blair in opposition. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership in 2015. Along with fellow Labour MP Margaret Hodge, Coffey tabled the vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in a letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party chairman in 2016, following the result of the EU referendum. Endorsed Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. What does she want? She supports a people’s vote, and failing that, the Brexit “option that is the least damaging to the economic and social fabric of the nation.” Anything else? Her views on foreign policy differ greatly from Corbyn’s, and her local Momentum group have called for her to be deselected for disloyalty in the past. As a 72-year-old who has served in parliament for nearly three decades, it’s thought that she would be standing down at the next election. 5) Mike Gapes Who? Labour MP for Ilford South since 1992. Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee from 2005-2010. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership in 2015. Nominated Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. A long-time critic of Jeremy Corbyn, he’s been threatening to quit for a while – saying last summer that he was been “agonising every day” over the decision, chiefly due to the anti-Semitism scandal. What does he want? Gapes is “sickened” by Labour and calls it a “racist, anti-Semitic” party. He has been a vocal critic of the leadership’s attitude towards those views in the party. As a Remainer, Gapes wants Britain to remain in the single market and customs union and is in favour of a second referendum – and had been urging the Labour leadership to back one. Anything else? Gapes has long been done with Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. Like Coffey, he’s represented his seat since 1992 and at 66, was likely to think twice about standing again at the next election. 6) Angela Smith Who? Labour MP for Penistone and Stockbridge since 2005. Aide to Yvette Cooper when Labour were in government, shadow environment minister from 2014-2015, shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons in 2011-2014. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership in 2015. Nominated Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. What does she want? As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on water (which is sponsored by water industry groups), Smith is well-known for opposing Labour’s policy for nationalising the water sector. Smith was one of six MPs representing Leave constituencies who voted against an opposition motion in December 2016 laying out the plan and deadline for triggering Article 50, because it was an “unrealistic timetable as far as parliamentary scrutiny is concerned” and needed a “commitment to a white paper and a rigorous parliamentary process to match”. She wants a people’s vote. Anything else? Smith faces deselection, following a (non-binding) motion of no confidence in her passed by her local Labour Party last November, on the basis of her support for fracking and opposition to water state ownership. She blamed this on a “cabal of hard left members” in the party. 7) Gavin Shuker Who? Labour/Co-op MP for Luton South since 2010. Shadow environment minister in 2011-2013, shadow international development minister in 2013-2015. Attitude towards the Labour leadership? Nominated Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership in 2015. Nominated Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election. He quit the frontbench when Corbyn became leader, saying he’d struggle to maintain collective responsibility because of differences with his leader. What does he want? Critical of the Labour leadership’s attitude towards anti-Semitism, Shuker has been hinting at a breakaway from the party for a while, saying in September that “it’s increasingly difficult not just for me but for other colleagues” to stay. Shuker wants a second referendum, and has urged his party to back one. Anything else? Shuker faces deselection, after his local Labour passed a (non-binding) vote of no confidence in him last September. He blamed this on the ideological differences a surge of new members joining the party had with him: “The people who are disconcerted with my performance are disconcerted based on my position within the party, not my performance as a member of parliament.” As vice chair of the Christians in Parliament All-Party Parliamentary Group, and a member of Christians on the Left (formerly the Christian Socialist Movement), it’s also thought that Shuker feels a strong moral motive not to go into the next election fighting for Jeremy Corbyn – whose leadership he doesn’t believe in – to become prime minister, mainly due to the anti-Semitism row. › There is no clear space for a new centrist party in Scotland Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor. Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!