Don’t let the headline get your hopes up. Chuka Umunna was supposed to be quitting Labour last Thursday and didn’t have the guts.
Michael Rosen mocked him brilliantly on Twitter:
News coming in that Umunna is extremely vergiferous. Incredibly perhapsish. Possibly brinky. Utterly poisedtoish. Fully preparedous.
— Michael Rosen (@MichaelRosenYes) February 14, 2019
Still, Mr Umunna may well be thinking about announcing that it’s possible he could consider something along those lines again at some point in the future.
Also involved in discussions about forming a new party, we’re told, is Chris Leslie – who has been castigated in a letter by representatives of his Nottingham East Constituency Labour Party.
“We believe that the views expressed in your most recent email to constituents are likely to damage the reputation and electoral prospects of our party and give the impression that you are doubtful that a Labour government would be the best outcome for Britain,” they wrote. “This email crossed a line and we believe it is unacceptable for a sitting Labour MP to attack the party in this manner.”
The letter also stated: “You are happy to attack the party leadership, other Labour MPs and party members; giving the impression that our party is divided as we approach the local council elections in May and a possible general election.
“The support you give constituents and party members in Nottingham East is well below that of other local Labour MPs… Members and residents are much more likely to have seen you attacking the party and its leadership than representing the views of local residents.”
Draw your own conclusions. While the MPs already mentioned, together with Gavin Shuker who lost a vote of “no confidence” in his own CLP last year, and Angela Smith might say they are frustrated with pro-Brexit policies and issues over anti-Semitism, their real reasons for wanting to take their allegiances elsewhere seem clear.
So the right-wing newspapers are full of rumours that these people will help set up a new “centrist” (read: neoliberal) party alongside Conservatives (possibly Anna Soubry) and Liberal Democrats who may be desperate for public interest after their five-year dalliance with the Tories.
Intense discussions are taking place at Westminster that could lead to the emergence of a new centrist party consisting of six or more disaffected anti-Brexit Labour MPs along with the involvement of some Conservatives and the backing of the Liberal Democrats.
Apparently some of the ringleaders have lobbied backbench colleagues they thought were sympathetic, with an invitation to join in. It seems Clive Lewis was among them – and here’s his response:
Hi Wendy,Im plenty fine in @UKLabour! We already have a party committed to neolib economic policies – it’s called the Tory Party.All this endeavour will do in our current voting system is keep them in power.We need a radically transformative govt.Not more of the same but rebadged https://t.co/WvEC32acoi
— Clive Lewis (@labourlewis) February 16, 2019
The message – to the Labour MPs implicated, at least, is clear: If you want to go, push off.
Sadly it seems this is the very attitude that is keeping them where they aren’t wanted.