An MP used his local newspaper to reveal he has quit Labour – saying he wanted to tell people in his constituency about his decision “first”.
In an exclusive interview with Wolverhampton daily the Express & Star, published this morning, Dudley MP Ian Austin said he was leaving due to what he claimed was a “culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance” within the party.
Speaking to Express & Star political editor Peter Madeley, Mr Austin added it was the “hardest decision I have ever had to take”.
The 53-year-old has become the ninth MP to leave Jeremy Corbyn’s party this week, but says he currently has no plans to join the newly formed anti-Brexit Independent Group, which three former Tory MPs have also joined.
I have decided to leave the Labour Party and I wanted to tell people in Dudley first. https://t.co/IaXSwDry06
— Ian Austin (@IanAustinMP) February 22, 2019
Posting a link to a photograph of this morning’s Express & Star front page on Twitter, Mr Austin wrote: “I have decided to leave the Labour Party and I wanted to tell people in Dudley first.”
Mr Austin has served as the MP for Dudley North since 2005 and has held ministerial positions in the past.
In his E&S interview, he added: “I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.
“I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have caused to Jewish people.
“It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics.”
Peter told HTFP: “Earlier in the week, when we asked Ian for his thoughts on the first group of Labour resignations he said he was considering his position.
“When he finally decided to jump ship he wanted to let his constituents know first, and we were more than happy to break the news.
“There’s already been plenty of reaction to his departure, so this is a story we are expecting to run and run.”
Editor Martin Wright added: “Ian wanted to make sure his constituents understood exactly why he was leaving the party and he felt the Express & Star was the best vehicle to get his message across, which is both a compliment to our newspaper and to political editor Peter Madeley who has done such a good job covering this story.”
Labour has expressed “regret” over Mr Austin’s decision.
But a spokesman added: “He was elected as a Labour MP and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the people of Dudley decide who should represent them.”