Labour could split within hours today as rebel MPs promised a statement on the  ‘future of British politics’.

Rumours of an historic split in Jeremy Corbyn’s party exploded overnight and an event in central London was confirmed this morning.

MPs thought to be behind the move include Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Ian Austin and Angela Smith.

Other MPs whose names have been linked to the move include Owen Smith, Luciana Berger and Mike Gapes.

The group is not thought to be larger than five MPs and is dominated by people frustrated by Mr Corbyn’s refusal to back a second referendum on Brexit and furious at his handling of anti-Semitism claims. 

Mr Corbyn refused to comment as he left home this morning.  

There have been reports for months a group of MPs was considering whether to sit as independents or even set up an entirely new centrist party with the hope of attracting liberal Tory MPs and Liberal Democrat politicians.  

MPs thought to be behind the move include Chuka Umunna (left), Luciana Berger (right), Chris Leslie, Ian Austin and Angela Smith

Ahead of today’s event Labour MPs started insisting they would never leave their party.

Which MPs have already quit Corbyn’s Labour? 

Several Labour MPs have walked away from the party since Mr Corbyn was first elected leader in 2015.

They include Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed who quit Parliament entirely to take up new jobs.

Frank Field quit the parliamentary party last year in protest at the anti-Semitism scandal and now sits as an independent.

John Woodcock left the party accusing it of ‘rigging’ an inquiry into harassment claims against him. He was a harsh critic of Mr Corbyn and vowed never to help him enter No 10. 

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said Labour had been his ‘political home’ for 27 years ‘under Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn – and it will remain so’.

His statement was endorsed by Alison McGovern – a leading member of the centrist Progress faction of Labour.

She said: ‘When I was growing up, if something good happened – not political – anything good – my Dad would describe it as a ‘Labour Gain’.

‘Can never turn my back on the fight to see Labour win.’

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: ‘I’ve no idea of the truth of what may happen today but I plead with colleagues at this late stage to stay.

‘The Labour Party needs a broad base, more importantly our constituents need a Labour government and a splinter only ever helps the Tories.’

The interventions suggest any breakaway will be met by fury from many of those who stay behind, even among those deeply opposed to Mr Corbyn.  

Corbyn ally and Unite leader Len McCluskey yesterday urged the rebels to make their move if they were going to.

Rumours have swirled for months about the prospect of a split – with the MPs mulling whether to sit as independents or even form a new centrist party.

Mr McClusksey told the BBC’s John Pienaar: ‘If you are going to leave, for God’s sake get on with it and stop pestering us through the media and through the TV.’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell struck a more conciliatory tone yesterday, pleading with the MPs to stay for fear it would help the Tories.

He told Marr: ‘It would be like the 1980s. My constituency in Hayes and Harlington, we had a Labour MP join the SDP and we lost the seat to the Conservatives. 

‘And it basically installed Mrs Thatcher in power for that decade.’ 

Mr McDonnell also defended an online ‘loyalty pledge’ that has seen Labour MPs facing pressure to back a commitment to ‘work for the achievement of a Labour-led government’ under whatever leadership.   

In a signal of a backlash against the splinter group, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said Labour had been his ‘political home’ for 27 years ‘under Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn – and it will remain so’.

Alison McGovern – a leading member of the centrist Progress faction of Labour – said: ‘When I was growing up, if something good happened – not political – anything good – my Dad would describe it as a ‘Labour Gain’.’

Last night Labour MP Stephen Kinnock – linked by some to the rebel group – told BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour on Sunday: ‘The talk has been going on so long that I say with great regret that, yes, there probably will be some kind of splintering.

‘It just seems to have been in the rumour mill so long that it’s unlikely that wouldn’t be the outcome.’

Several Labour MPs have walked away from the party since Mr Corbyn was first elected leader in 2015.

They include Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed who quit Parliament entirely to take up new jobs.

Frank Field quit the parliamentary party last year in protest at the anti-Semitism scandal and now sits as an independent.

John Woodcock left the party accusing it of ‘rigging’ an inquiry into harassment claims against him. He was a harsh critic of Mr Corbyn and vowed never to help him enter No 10. 

Today’s event after it emerged up to a hundred MPs face the threat of a deselection battle.

Plans for a breakaway group have been accelerated by fears of a mass wave of challenges to sitting MPs.

Moderates believe party grandees including Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Dame Margaret Beckett will all face attempts to oust them, along with Labour frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Dan Carden.

It is anticipated that around a quarter of the 100 MPs expected to be subject to a contest will lose, removing them as Labour candidates for the next election.

Those seen as most at risk include Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith, who are all thought to be considering quitting the party as part of an imminent split. 

Others believed to have little chance of surviving deselection challenges include former party leadership candidates Mary Creagh and Angela Eagle, Commons Brexit committee chairman Hilary Benn, leading Brexiteer Kate Hoey and former international development spokesman Kate Osamor.

The deselection process does not usually happen until much nearer the next election, but Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby has already started discussions on setting the timetable – raising fears it could start within months. 

Many of those facing the prospect of deselection have warned they will stand as independents if they are removed.

A number of Labour MPs including Mr McDonnell, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted their support for the pledge. 

Dame Margaret told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday it would be ‘a mistake’ for the MPs to go.

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