After weeks and months of speculation, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker, Joan Ryan and Ian Austen all resigned from the Labour Party citing a culture of bullying, intimidation and a lack lustre effort over the party’s stance on Brexit.
Similarly, pro-European Union Conservatives, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, resigned the whip from the Conservative Party with Anna Soubry stating that the “hard right, anti-EU awkward squad that have destroyed every Conservative leader for the last forty years are now running the Conservative Party from top to toe, with too many former colleagues fearing their local Conservative Association more than the electorate- the people they’ve been voted to represent.”
In an upbeat tone, Heidi Allen said “I feel excited, so excited in a way that I haven’t since I was first elected and a sense of liberation. I believe the United Kingdom deserves better, we might fail, but isn’t the prize worth fighting for and I sense the country wants us to fight for it too, and I for one are prepared to give it everything.”
Last week’s split has resulted in many political pundits and commentators making comparisons between the current split and the split that resulted in the formation of the Social Democrat Party in 1981.
So, what does this mean for UK politics? Although they say a week is a long time in politics, it’s too early to predict what is likely to happen, but the main difference between last week’s split and the split in 1981 is that it affects both the Conservative and Labour Party.
Like the SDP, The Independent Group has spoken about politics being broken and the dominance of the two main party structures coming to an end and politics as we know it no longer fit for purpose. Critics of the Independent Group have said like UKIP the new group is a one-party issue, and once that issue is resolved, the independent Group will be irrelevant.
However, that may not be the case and both Chuka Umunna and Heidi Allen have spoken about the bigger picture and the need to offer the electorate something more and better. Arguably, this is in line with the mood of the country and the electorate, who for some time have felt politically homeless and disillusioned with UK politics.
There is no denying that the political narrative in the UK has been overshadowed by Brexit and the ongoing constitutional crisis the country finds its self in, with important domestic issues being cast aside, but if the Independent Group is to have any longevity it will need to adopt policies that not only resonate with the British public, but also offer hope and incentivise people to vote for a new party and split with traditional ties.