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After Ed Miliband, the Labour Party decided to turn even more to the Left. They embraced Jeremy Corbyn, the eccentric backbencher who supported the IRA when they were bombing British Troops. Not only that, but when Theresa May came first (although without a majority) in the 2017 general election, the Labour Party seemed to believe that Corbyn had succeeded somehow, simply because he hadn’t done as badly as many had predicted.
Fast forward nearly 2 years, and it is clear that the Blairite faction in the Labour movement has at last seen (some) sense. Corbyn’s inner circle of pro-Palestine activists, Communists and other fringe groups have clearly become too much for many people. And so this week in an unprecedented move, some of the most well-known MPs in Labour left the Party, and formed their own faction, which is now called the Independent Group.
The MPs who left were: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Joan Ryan and Mike Gapes. Umunna is reportedly the ringleader, and has stated he wants to form a new party by the end of the year. Considering there are rumours of a general election in the early summer after Brexit, this is probably the worst possible timing. Although Labour donors would definitely prefer the Independent Group’s Blairite politics, they would also be concerned that there is no party machine behind them, which subsequently makes a general election victory impossible.
Then, on top of all of this, it emerged that Tory Remainers like Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Nick Boles and Heidi Allen had been in talks with members of the Independent Group. The next day, Soubry, Allen and Wollaston left the Conservative party hours before PMQs, and joined Chuka Umunna in the Independent Group. It comes amid attempts by some Conservative Associations to deselect Conservative MPs who support Remaining in the EU. It is also clear that Luciana Berger almost lost her own seat when her Labour Branch in Liverpool tried to deselect her. This then hints that members of the Independent Group are partly doing this in order to stay in politics, because they were no longer wanted by the activists in the parties they left.
Whatever occurs in the coming weeks, it is clear that the political left and right in Britain are splintering, and thus their vote will be split as a result. With mass immigration, political correctness and other issues of our time in need of attention, the time for a successful, truly right wing force in Westminster is desperately needed. It is unclear how the Prime Minister and indeed the Labour party will deal with the dissent and desertion in their own ranks. It may be that the new faction lead by Umunna amounts to nothing more than a small, centrist force in Parliament. However in all honesty it is too early to know, and the ramifications for the two party system could be considerable, which in turn could lead to long term political instability.