Ian Austin has become the ninth MP to quit Labour, blaming the party’s culture of anti-Semitism. He tells the Express and Star:
‘The Labour Party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take, but I have to be honest and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.’
‘I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have caused to Jewish people. It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics. The hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about anti-Semitism than it is on the anti-Semites.’
The Dudley North MP is a long-time campaigner against anti-Semitism across the political spectrum and for many years before Corbyn became leader. Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard said in response to this morning’s news that Austin is ‘a man of honour and decency’.
Unlike his eight departing colleagues, Austin has not joined the Independent Group. This is pretty telling. Austin backs Theresa May’s deal on Brexit and opposes a so-called People’s Vote. His region, the West Midlands, voted 59.3 per cent for Brexit, the highest level of any region in England.
Writing in November, Austin said:
‘I listen to lots of people in Dudley but hear very little evidence people have changed their minds. Even if the UK voted narrowly to remain, who would think that would settle it? At our party conference, there were disagreements on how many questions there would be or what they would ask. Worse of all, it would make the problems that led to Brexit even worse.