This week 8 MPs quit the Labour Party to form a new Independent Group. As I argue in the Guardian, the ball in now Jeremy Corbyn’s court. The key issues of Europe, Antisemitism and deselection are not “left v right” but “right v wrong”, and Jeremy Corbyn will have no one to blame but himself if they end up encouraging a wider Labour split.
Then Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, and Sarah Wollaston quit the Conservative Party to join this new group. The clear driver of these MPs leaving is the takeover of the Conservative Party by a ‘Purple Momentum’ of hard right, strong Brexiters who have switched from the now defunct UKIP and are now busy encouraging Tory associations to hound MPs who want a second referendum. In my book ‘Saving Britain’ with Will Hutton I argue that after the referendum Nigel Farage took over the Conservative Party, and it is clear that this is now the dismal reality for MPs like Sarah Wollaston who said she left because “BLUKIP has been busy taking over the Tory Party alongside the ERG.”
I have received repeated queries about joining this Independent Group, but the truth is that I don’t regard myself as ‘independent.’ I’m a social democrat who is strongly pro-European. ‘Centre’ parties & ‘centrism’ are weak & ultimately vacuous. I do however believe in working with people from other parties where we agree.
In any case, I am completely busy touring the country building up a pro-People’s Vote and anti-Brexit movement in the few hours when I am not resisting the Government’s torrent of Brexit legislation in the House of Lords – there are 23 ‘decrees’ for No Deal scheduled for next week, covering everything from air traffic management to the regulation of vets. There is also a ‘Waste (EU Exit) Order’ - which sums up Brexit!
Last week I spoke in Edinburgh, Macclesfield, Crewe and Nantwich, London, and Oxford.
Today I will be speaking first in West Lancashire, then in Preston, and then on Sunday in Lewisham, London. Next week I will be in Sevenoaks on Tuesday, South Gloucestershire on Wednesday, and giving a lecture in Brussels on Thursday. As always, do come along to these meetings if you can!