UK Politics

Who are the MPs resigning to join the Independent Group?

Resigning MPs

After months of rumours swirling around Westminster that Labour MPs might break away, seven resigned from the party in one go, and an eighth followed suit a day later.

They were then joined by three MPs from the Conservative backbenches.

The three Conservative MPs blamed "a shift to the right" in their party and the government's "disastrous handling of Brexit" as reasons for their departure.

Labour MPs also cited their party's Brexit stance along with the leadership's handling of anti-Semitism.

The newly-formed "Independent Group" - which at the moment remains a grouping in Parliament not an official political party - says it represents "the centre ground of British politics".

But who are the MPs within it?

Heidi Allen

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Former party: Conservative

Constituency: MP for Cambridgeshire South since 2015

Majority in the last election: 15,952

Referendum result: 38% Leave, 62% Remain

Positions: She sits on the Work and Pensions committee, but has not held any government posts.

Before becoming an MP she worked for ExxonMobil, the Royal Mail and ran a manufacturing business.

Ms Allen has campaigned repeatedly, and with some success, for changes to new benefits system Universal Credit.

She is a vocal supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a further referendum on EU membership.

Luciana Berger

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010

Majority in the last election: 29,466

Referendum result: 35% Leave, 65% Remain

Positions: Shadow minister for energy and climate change between October 2010 and October 2013; shadow minister for public health between October 2013 and September 2015; shadow minister for mental health between September 2015 and June 2016

Ms Berger has previously worked for management consultancy company Accenture and the NHS Confederation, a body representing healthcare organisations.

She recently faced the threat of a no confidence vote from local Labour members for criticising Jeremy Corbyn, but it was withdrawn after individuals in the constituency party were accused of "bullying" her. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any attempts to deselect her had been a result of her association with a breakaway party.

She attended a protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in Westminster's Parliament Square in March 2018, and has campaigned vigorously on the issue.

Ann Coffey MP

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Stockport since 1992

Majority in the last election: 14,477

Referendum result: 47% Leave, 53% Remain

Positions: Opposition whip between January 1995 and January 1996; shadow spokeswoman for health between January 1996 and June 1997

Along with fellow MP Margaret Hodge, Ms Coffey put forward a no confidence motion against Mr Corbyn in 2016.

Prior to being elected as an MP, she was a senior social worker.

Mike Gapes

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Ilford South since 1992

Majority in the last election: 31,647

Referendum result: 43% Leave, 57% Remain

Positions: Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee between 2005 and 2010

A Europhile and a founding member of the Clause Four Group in 1974, Mr Gapes has long disagreed with Jeremy Corbyn on a number of issues. He recently launched an attack on the Labour leader for refusing to meet Prime Minister Theresa May for Brexit talks and has publicly disagreed with his stance on foreign policy.

The Jewish Chronicle reported in August 2018 that Mr Gapes was set to quit, with him describing the party as a "horrible place to be".

Before Parliament, Mr Gapes worked as a research officer and student organiser for Labour, later becoming the party's international secretary.

Chris Leslie

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Nottingham East since 2010; MP for Shipley between 1997 and 2005

Majority in the last election: 19,590

Referendum result: 43% Leave, 57% Remain

Positions: Various Parliamentary Secretary and Under-Secretary roles between 2001 and 2005; shadow Treasury minister between October 2013 and October 2013, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury between October 2013 and May 2015; shadow chancellor between May 2015 and Sep 2015

Before entering Parliament, Mr Leslie was director of think tank the New Local Government Network. He was just 24 when first elected, making him the "Baby of the House".

He recently said Jeremy Corbyn would "betray Labour" if he prevented a further referendum. In September 2018, Mr Leslie lost a vote of no confidence in his constituency, which cited his "repeated attempts… to undermine the leadership". He responded by saying Labour was "no longer a broad church" and denounced grassroots movement Momentum as "the [Trotskyite] Militant [Tendency] for the digital age".

Joan Ryan

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Enfield North between 1997 and 2010, and again from 2015

Majority in the last election: 10,247

Referendum result: 49% Leave, 51% Remain

Positions: Whips' office roles between 2002 and 2006; Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office between May 2006 and June 2007; prime minister's special representative to Cyprus between June 2008 and September 2008

Ms Ryan - a former deputy leader of Barnet Council - saw her share of the vote shoot up by 14.3% in the 2017 election. She said this was "in spite of [Mr Corbyn], not because of him", having told her constituents they should put aside their "misgivings" about him and vote for her as "an independent minded" local MP.

Before resigning the whip, she was the chair of the Labour Friends of Israel group.

Anna Soubry

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Former party: Conservative

Constituency: MP for Broxtowe since 2010

Majority in the last election: 863

Referendum result: 53% Leave, 47% Remain

Positions: Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health between September 2012 and October 2013; Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence between October 2013 and July 2014; defence minister between July 2014 and May 2015; business and enterprise minister between May 2015 and July 2016

Ms Soubry is a former barrister, TV reporter and presenter. She is also a prominent supporter of the People's Vote campaign and has been a vocal critic of the government's handling of Brexit.

Angela Smith

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge since 2010; MP for Sheffield Hillsborough between 2005 and 2010

Majority in the last election: 1,322

Referendum result: 61% Leave, 39% Remain

Positions: Shadow minister between 2010 and 2015

In 2016, Ms Smith voted against triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which began negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union, saying she was voting "against an unrealistic timetable as far as parliamentary scrutiny is concerned".

Before being elected, she taught was an English lecturer.

Sarah Wollaston

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Former party: Conservative

Constituency: MP for Totnes since 2010

Majority in the last election: 13,477

Referendum result: 53% Remain, 47% Leave

Positions: Chair of the Health Select Committee and the Liaison Committee

Dr Wollaston is a former GP who taught junior doctors and medical students. She was also forensic examiner for Devon and Cornwall Police.

She initially backed Leave in the referendum, but changed her mind during the campaign, claiming Brexit would have "huge unintended consequences". Since then, she has campaigned against a hard Brexit and backed the People's Vote campaign.

Gavin Shuker

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Luton South since 2010

Majority in the last election: 13,925

Referendum result: 55% Leave, 45% Remain

Positions: Shadow minister of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between March 2011 to October 2013; shadow minister for the Department for International Development between October 2013 and September 2015

Mr Shuker worked for his local church before his election in 2010.

The MP lost a vote of no confidence by 33 votes to three in his constituency party in September 2018. He then said he would remain as an MP, adding: "I've not changed - but the Labour Party has."

Chuka Umunna

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Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Streatham since 2010

Majority in the last election: 26,285

Referendum result: 21% Leave, 79% Remain

Positions: Shadow business secretary between 2011 and 2015

In 2015, former solicitor Mr Umunna launched his campaign to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour leader. However, he pulled out of the race three days later citing "very real concerns and worry about this bid's impact on those close to me".

He has become one of the faces of the People's Vote campaign and formed a cross-party alliance with Anna Soubry.

One MP has left the Labour Party since the group was formed but says he has no plans to join it.

Ian Austin

Former party: Labour

Constituency: MP for Dudley North since 2005

Majority in the last election: 22

Referendum result: 67.6% Leave, 32.4% Remain

Positions: Minister for Regional Affairs (2008-09) and a series of shadow ministerial positions between 2010 and 2013

Ian Austin served as a minister under Gordon Brown and held a number of shadow positions under Ed Miliband.

He has been a vehement critic of the party's shift of direction under Jeremy Corbyn and only scraped home in the 2017 election, winning his West Midlands seat - a traditional marginal - by 22 votes.

He has said that he is not joining the Independent Group of MPs. While he agrees with their dislike of Mr Corbyn's policies, he does not support their call for another EU referendum and he voted for Theresa May''s Brexit deal last month.

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