UK Politics

Future Britain Group draws Labour MPs

Tom Watson Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tom Watson set up the group after a group of Labour MPs left the party

Around 130 Labour politicians, including around a dozen former cabinet ministers, crammed into a committee room in Parliament tonight to discuss their alternative vision for the party.

The Future Britain Group - set up by Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson - heard from former leader Lord Kinnock and former cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, among others.

The gathering, in Committee Room eight, was standing room only and lasted just under an hour.

This allowed people to leave en masse at the end to attend the formal weekly gathering of the Parliamentary Labour Party down the corridor.

The group was set up by Mr Watson after a group of MPs left Labour last month, citing allegations of anti-Semitism and criticism of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership among their reasons.

Its convenor, MP Darren Jones, insisted to reporters afterwards that it was "not a faction", but "the coming together of previous factions into the mainstream of the Labour Party".

Lord Mandelson agreed, telling the meeting it represented a "coming together of the TB-GBs" - a reference to the long standing divisions between those loyal to Tony Blair and those loyal to Gordon Brown more than a decade ago.

Lord Kinnock, joined by his wife, Baroness Kinnock and their son, the MP Stephen Kinnock, said there needed to be a championing of "democratic socialist values" and "achievable, possible and affordable policies".

'There is a place for me'

Other attendees included Lord Adonis and former leadership contender Yvette Cooper, making up around 70 MPs and 60 members of the House of Lords at the meeting.

A former cabinet minister said: "This is the last chance for the Labour Party. It has been asset stripped and seized by the leadership."

Mr Jones told the BBC: "I have never had a conversation with Jeremy Corbyn and I've been an MP for two years."

Asked if the group was a breakaway, he said: "If I was going to break away, I would have broken away with The Independent Group.

"I am staying in the Labour Party. There is a place in the Labour Party for me too.

"I am not a Marxist, I am a social democrat. And I want to contribute on that basis, and this group seems like a good way to do that."

A Labour source told the BBC that "huge advances in policy has been the hallmark of Jeremy's leadership, exciting millions across the UK".

"If this group contributes to that, good," they said. "The proof will, of course, be in the eating."

And as one attendee left, they said: "It's nice to be reminded why we're in the Labour Party."

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