WATCH: Chuka Umunna says threats from Corbyn’s supporters made it ‘unbearable’ to stay with Labour Party
PUBLISHED: 12:42 24 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 24 February 2019
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Chuka Umunna said that the failure of the Labour Party to do something about anti-Semitism and bullying made his position as a member “untenable”.
The MP for Streatham is among a group of 11 MPs who recently left their parties to form the new Independent Group.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme, Umunna said that being part of the Labour Party had become “unbearable”.
“Going to meetings being heckled, shouted at. I have received threats from supporters of the leader where I’ve had to call in the police and somebody was arrested.
“Ultimately you don’t join a party to be fighting year after year other people within it.
“At times it’s been extremely unsettling.”
He went on: “I blame Jeremy Corbyn, but I also blame other people who have acted as bystanders.
“There is a rule by fear, particularly post 2017 when the Labour Party rules were changed.
“My principals and values of what I believe in come before being an MP. If you’re not prepared to lose your job for your values, you should not be doing it.
“The left party is institutionally anti-Semitic. The failure to do something about it made my position untenable.”
A lack of confidence in Corbyn to become Britain’s next prime minister also formed part of Umunna’s decision to leave the Labour Party.
He said: “After really soul searching on this issue, can I in all conscience say that I want to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister and the team around him, put them in charge of our national security... in all conscience I can’t do that.”
The Streatham MP told Sophy Ridge that both the Tories and Labour politicians “were just as bad as each other” and that it is time for a new style of politics.
In the interview at a youth club in Streatham, he said: “Ultimately our party system is broken. You’ve got a bunch of parties which are divided.
“We’re quite clear that we believe that we should have the closest possible relationship with the European Union because we’re internationalists.
“Individuals should be given platforms to succeed. The older tribal politics where you have opposition for opposition’s sake is done.
“I do think we need realignment, we’re trying to break a system which is usually rigged in favour of different parties.”
When pressed about whether he meant to become the leader of The Independent Group, Umunna admitted that he hoped to play the biggest part.
He said: “The recognition is that we’re all leaders.
“We’re going to try to be our best to be culturally different from other parties.”
Umnna added that he doesn’t “intended to leave the field” when asked about whether he planned to defend his seat at the next election.