Frank Field eyes by-election after quitting Labour whip

Frank Field said he was contemplating triggering a by-election in his constituency after he quit the Parliamentary Labour party and declared he would sit as an “Independent Labour” MP. 

On Thursday, the former Labour minister announced that he would continue in his role as MP for Birkenhead and remain a member of the UK opposition party. 

However, questioned on Friday about the possibility of resigning from parliament and letting voters elect him as an independent MP, Mr Field said: “Over the next few days, that’s clearly a question I will have to think about.” 

He told the BBC: “I’m not thinking about it now. It’s a big enough step to have to resign the whip.

“Once things settle down from that, I will obviously make a decision on whether I should have a by-election or not and whether it’s proper for me.” 

Mr Field resigned on Thursday, claiming the Labour leadership under Jeremy Corbyn had become “a force for anti-Semitism” in UK politics. 

Last month, his local party passed a motion of no confidence in him after he supported the government in a tight Brexit vote and critics have called for him to allow a by-election. 

But there are concerns among moderate Labour MPs that Momentum, the pro-Corbyn pressure group, would seek to push him out and replace him with a more leftwing candidate. 

Mr Field’s dramatic resignation has also raised fears that a small number of MPs could resign the Labour whip. 

One official close to the shadow cabinet said: “More will definitely go, but the more co-ordinated MPs who are set on creating a new party will want to wait until Brexit is done.” 

Another Labour MP, Mike Gapes, has also revealed he is considering quitting the parliamentary party. 

One MP said: “I expect lots of my colleagues will feel like me, which is frustrated that we now have anti-Semitism smeared all over our brand.” 

“Feeling like this is all of our own making and our ineptitude in clearing up the mess.” 

In his resignation letter, Mr Field spoke out against the “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation” in many parts of the party. 

Bur he also hinted that he could re-apply for the whip if there were “great changes” in the leadership’s position. 

Mr Corbyn is facing pressure to align the party’s definition of anti-Semitism with that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association. 

The IHRA definition has associated examples, four of which Labour has so far not adopted in its own code of conduct, but next week the party’s ruling national executive is expected to consider a motion to accept it in full.

On Sunday, a number of Labour MPs, who have urged Mr Corbyn to rethink his stance, will gather at the Jewish Labour Movement 2018 conference. 

The veteran MP Margaret Hodge will speak at the event, just weeks after she confronted Mr Corbyn and accused him of being an anti-Semite. 

The party dropped their inquiry into Dame Margaret following an outcry from Labour MPs and Jewish groups across the UK.


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