Frank Field quits Labour whip over anti-semitism row

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme The Andrew Marr Show

The politician, who has represented Birkenhead for almost 40 years, was told by Nick Brown that he would be removed from the party unless he reversed his decision to resign the whip - effectively the rules and policy an MP is bound by.

Mr Field told the Guardian that he was contemplating hiring a solicitor to fight any attempt to remove him from the party.

The MP also blamed a "culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation" in local Labour parties.

Field, 79, has been MP for Birkenhead since 1979.

Field said he was no longer able to tolerate his party's leadership which he called "a force for anti-Semitism in British politics". "I said I would think about it because it is insane to spend an hour with the chief whip and not think about what he said, but I didn't express any enthusiasm for that".

"I was told, "of course you would remain a member of the Labour Party" - but that may not be the position and I will learn about that later today".

Labour has been dealing with a row about the extent of anti-Semitism within the party for more than two years.

"It saddens me that we are increasingly seen as a racist party".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under mounting attack for his own allegedly anti-Semitic positions and for failing to root anti-Semitism out of Labour, Britain's main opposition party.

In the article for his local newspaper, Mr Field said the reason he was one of the 36 MPs to nominate Mr Corbyn for the leadership in 2015 was "to be inclusive of the hard left, as these views have a legitimate place in Labour thinking".

Perhaps less helpfully for Field, he received a similarly glowing endorsement from Andrew Bridgen, who is known in Westminster as a staunch Brexiteer and one of the most outspoken figures on the right wing of the Conservative party. "I absolutely want to remain a member of the party", he said.

Mr Field also hit out at his local division of the party, describing it as the second factor that drove him to quit.

Former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of U.K. and The Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks blasted U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as "an anti-Semite" who supports "racists, terrorists and dealers of hate", adding that a speech the party leader gave five years ago was the "most offensive statement by a senior British politician since [Conservative parliament member] Enoch Powell's 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech".

Frank Field resigns from Labour party saying it is is now a "force for antisemitism".

Birkenhead MP Mr Field, who last month lost a vote of confidence in his constituency party after siding with the government in Brexit votes, will continue to sit in Parliament as an independent.

He repeated that he would remain a member of Labour but added: "I can not, through continuing to take the Labour whip, lend any legitimacy to the most appalling culture which is now dominating national and local Labour Party institutions".

He said: "Antisemitism and the toxic political culture in the Labour Party are issues that need to be immediately addressed by the Labour leadership if they're to stop this becoming a full-scale existential crisis of the Labour Party. We can not afford to lose people of such weight and stature".

"I wish to be the Labour party candidate at the next election and, if I am not, I shall stand as an independent Labour candidate".

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