Corbyn allies blast Gang Of 7 ‘hypocrites’ and demand they resign their seats

Two of Jeremy Corbyn’s most powerful allies today turned on the ‘gang of seven’ quitting MPs, branding them "hypocrites" and demanding they quit their seats to allow a full by-election.

In a curt statement the Labour leader said he was "disappointed" that seven MPs had decided to announce they were leaving the party.

But his close allies went much further.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said there was a "whiff of hypocrisy" about the MPs quitting 18 months after winning an election under Corbyn’s banner.

And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the MPs should quit their seats – to give Labour a chance to beat them in a by-election.

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie and Ann Coffey announced their new "The Independent Group" in a bombshell press conference this morning.

Luciana Berger said she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to remain the Labour party which has become "institutionally anti-Semitic", and ridden with a "culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation".

Chuka Umunna slammed Labour’s handling of Brexit and made a direct appeal to MPs of any party – not just Labour – to quit too and join the group.

Previous MPs who’ve broken from their party, such as Tories Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith, resigned their seats to prove they still had voters’ support in a by-election.

But questioned by journalists today, the ‘gang of seven’ indicated they have no plans to quit their Westminster seats.

That would mean Labour members will be deprived of an MP from their own party until at least the next election.

John McDonnell said the group should "do the honourable thing" and stand down as MPs early.

He warned the group: "If you do splinter off and you’re going on another political platform I think you have a responsibility to go back to the electorate then, and in by-elections fight on that platform.

"If you’re no longer a Labour Party MP and you were elected as a Labour MP, you should go back to the people."

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Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey went further – telling the BBC: "There’s a strong whiff of hypocrisy here.

"They stood as Labour MPs on a platform in the general election 18 months ago. All of them got massive increases in their majorities.

"I have to tell them, it wasn’t because of their own personal charisma.

"It was because of the manifesto which promised to respect the 2016 referendum and take us out of Europe.

"All of their heartbreak about what’s happening in Brexit sounds a little bit hollow."

Mr McCluskey added "the issue about anti-Semitism I just think is grossly unfair", adding: "I think the whole thing is contrived."

The general secretary of the GMB union Tim Roache said: "I gritted my teeth through the Blair era, when I disagreed with the Labour government on a host of issues. But I stayed in the party because Labour in power is always better than the alternative.

"It would be unforgivable now for those who have resigned to stand against good Labour candidates, risking a Tory government."

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