UK Politics

Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob quits blaming 'breakdown in trust'

Former Respect leader Salma Yaqoob
Image caption Ms Yaqoob stood for Respect at the 2010 general election

Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob has resigned and quit the party, blaming a "breakdown in trust" at senior levels.

She was highly critical of recent comments by Respect MP George Galloway about rape and the case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

She did not refer to that, but said the last few weeks had been "extremely difficult" for the party and for her.

Ms Yaqoob said her decision had been taken with "deep regret" but "collaborative working" had ceased.

In his comments last month, Bradford West MP Mr Galloway had suggested consent was not needed each time before sex.

He criticised the legal case against Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault against two women.

Mr Assange denies the claims, saying sex took place but was consensual.

'Extremely difficult'

In a podcast, Mr Galloway said the allegations did not constitute rape "as most people understand it" and Mr Assange was guilty merely of "bad sexual etiquette".

He also suggested that "not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion".

He later "clarified" the remarks, insisting that he had always believed non-consensual sex was rape.

At the time, Ms Yaqoob described the original comments as "wrong and deeply disappointing".

In a statement on the party's website on Tuesday, she said: "The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down.

"I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close."

'Great contribution'

In response, the party's national secretary, Chris Chilvers, said he was "very sorry" about her move.

"We would like to thank her for the great contribution she has made to Respect over the last decade. We look forward to working with Salma in the future in pursuit of our shared values and objectives."

Mr Galloway, who was sensationally re-elected to Parliament in March in a by-election, declined to comment.

Ms Yaqoob stood in the 2010 general election, where she came second in the Birmingham constituency of Hall Green. She stood down as a local councillor in 2011 after five years, citing health reasons.

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