Thoughts on the Independent MPs who have split from Labour today

Labour MP Chuka Umunna in a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, along with 6 other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin S

The resignation of seven Labour MPs from the party has hit the headlines today. While party policy on Brexit was one issue relating to this, it was not the only one, as was made clear in the press conference where each in turn gave their reasons.

As a cross party organisation, Slough for Europe does not hold a particular view on the internal running of any of the UK political parties, and there is still a hope that both main parties will realise that supporting a People's Vote on Brexit is the only way to break the current deadlock.

While some are angry about these resignations, others are elated in equal measure. Some of these MPs have been with the Labour party for a long time and I very much doubt that any of them took this decision lightly. Whilst is is good that they can more openly campaign against Brexit now, without the distraction of threats of deselection etc, at the same time it does mean that they can no longer campaign to push for anti-Brexit policy from within Labour. We should also bear in mind that our first past the post voting system does not generally favour independent candidates at general election time.

Brexit has shown us that the old party groupings in the UK are struggling to align around the new divisions that Brexit has created - today's story is just one symptom of this.

The recent press release from the People's Vote campaign largely mirrors our own views on this:

Responding to today’s press conference by the new group of Independent MPs, a spokesperson for the People’s Vote campaign said:

“We are not a political party, nor are we ever going to allow ourselves to be associated with just one faction of any political party. We are a campaign for a People’s Vote. We are supported by a cross-party group of MPs, as well as by members of the public from all parties and of none.

“Some MPs will have their own reasons for wanting to resign from a particular political party but, as a campaign, we are still working towards securing the support of the Labour front bench.

“Over the weekend, we were encouraged by comments by John McDonnell that Labour would push for a vote on its own Brexit proposals by the end of this month. We remain optimistic that if  - or when - such Brexit options have been exhausted, Labour will be able to join the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and many Conservatives, as well as hundreds of thousands of voters on the streets of London on March 23, in calling for any final deal to be put to the people.”