Seven MPs quit Britain’s main opposition Labour Party on Monday, citing the leadership’s support for Brexit and a growing culture of racism, intimidation and abuse.
The departure of the seven moderates was the biggest split in UK politics in nearly four decades, illustrating the divisions that Brexit has stretched to breaking point.
The group include Chuka Umunna, who has led a campaign for a second Brexit referendum as a path to stop Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Umunna called for a centrist alternative in British politics as the rebel MPs detailed how a far-left internal coup at all levels of the Labour Party had taken place under the watch of veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn.
“The bottom line is this: politics is broken, it doesn’t have to be this way, let’s change it,” Umunna said at a packed, hastily-arranged press conference in London’s County Hall.
The seven MPs will form a breakaway independent group in parliament and expect others to join them, not only from Labour but from other parties too.
It is the most serious split in British politics since the so-called “Gang of Four” heavyweight Labour moderates quit to form the Social Democratic Party in 1981, with 28 Labour MPs eventually joining.