Former Labour MP rebukes ‘Corbyn cult’ as she quits party

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A former Labour MP and “proud Blairite” has quit the party and launched a ferocious attack on Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit and antisemitism.

Bridget Prentice, a government whip and junior minister for 18 years as a Labour MP, also hit out at a “Corbyn cult” and claimed the party had been destroyed.

Her attack on Mr Corbyn came in an angry four-page resignation letter to the Labour leader’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, who is currently the party’s acting general secretary.

Mr Corbyn announced the new policy at a conference in Birmingham
Image: Ms Prentice also said Jeremy Corbyn was failing to listen to party members on Brexit

Ms Prentice, who was MP for Lewisham West from 1992 to 2010, wrote: “It is with the deepest sadness and some anger that I resign from the party as it is presently formed as it no longer represents the values, aspirations or vision that led me to join it so many years ago.”

Attacking Mr Corbyn on antisemitism, she wrote: “Over the past three years I have watched in horror as Jewish members have begged for support against the growth of antisemitism both within and out with the party

“Mealy-mouthed words have replaced what should have been strong and determined condemnation of bigots and bullies. The response was slow, reluctant and inadequate.”

On Brexit, she claimed Mr Corbyn was failing to listen to party members on the EU, while “pandering to the baser views of racists” by backing an end to free movement.

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She wrote: “It’s clear to any objective observer that Jeremy has no wish to remain in Europe; that in his limited thinking, Europe is ‘a bad thing’, apparently completely ignorant of the benefits it has brought to working people in this country to say nothing of the internationalist outlook any half-decent socialist ought to express.

Ms Prentice, now 66, also attacked Mr Corbyn’s closest ally, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, for his response to this month’s local elections, when he said voters’s message on Brexit had been: “Sort it.”

“The recent comments about the local elections telling the major parties to deliver Brexit would be laughable if it were not so palpably wrong and pathetic,” Ms Prentice wrote.

“The damage to this country and most importantly to the poorest, the most vulnerable, the dispossessed, the underclass – all those that the Labour Party was born to protect – will be devastating.

“That Jeremy and those of you around him either cannot see that, or feel justified in disregarding it because of a narrow ideological pursuit, flies in the face of the moral right to lead a party which wants to transform the lives of those most in need.”

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On a “Corbyn cult”, Ms Prentice wrote: “I joined the Labour Party, not a cult. Singing ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ might be mildly amusing, but the inability to countenance any criticism of The Leader is not.

“Never in my life in the party has a leader not been criticised, questioned, asked to justify a position – and rightly so.

“But that’s not allowed under the Corbyn cult. Anyone questioning the leadership’s position is vilified; complaints sent in to the disciplinary panel like something out of a North Korean rulebook that disloyalty to the leader is a criminal offence.”

In her letter, the former MP acknowledged that Mr Corbyn had won the Labour leadership on a “wave of enthusiasm, even idealism”.

But she said: “Instead of harnessing that enthusiasm and idealism for the greater good, as Clem Attlee or Keir Hardie would have done, it has been deliberately ignored on the issue that unites the majority of young people in the UK today: remaining in the EU.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell
Image: Ms Prentice also criticised shadow chancellor John McDonnell

“Describing herself as a “Blairite and proudly so”, Ms Prentice claimed any praise for party leaders from the New Labour era saw party members “condemned as a Red Tory”.

She claimed the Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who left the Labour Party to join The Independent Group, now Change UK, had been “bullied out of the party by racists and thugs”.

“For a pregnant woman MP to be bullied out of the party is shameful and embarrassing,” wrote Ms Prentice.

She added: “It is easy to say Jeremy is not racist. But there is the sin of omission.

“By not standing up to the bullies and the antisemites, by not standing shoulder-to-shoulder with comrades who were being vilified and trolled through social media, whose lives were threatened and families under stress, Jeremy showed no leadership.”

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And Ms Prentice concluded: “The party has been destroyed. It is no longer the party of Hardie and Attlee and Blair.

“It is no longer the party that upholds the values of social justice and fairness in our society and an open welcoming view of the world.

“This is no longer the Labour Party. You should change its name.”

Hitting back, a Labour party spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that Bridget Prentice has left the party but many claims in her letter are plainly untrue.

“Labour’s bold and popular policies under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership have changed the political conversation in this country and exposed the devastation caused by the Tories’ austerity agenda.

Labour MP Luciana Berger
Image: Luciana Berger had been ‘bullied out of the party by racists and thugs’, Ms Prentice claimed

“Labour achieved the biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945 in the 2017 general election and we are now one of the biggest political parties in Europe with an active and diverse membership.

“The Labour Party is absolutely committed to challenging and campaigning against antisemitism in all its forms and wherever it occurs.”

One Labour source claimed Ms Prentice was irritated because Labour had declined to nominate her for a fresh term as the party’s representative on the Electoral Commission.

The source said: “Bridget Prentice is aggrieved that she was not re-nominated as Labour’s rep to the Electoral Commission, as she has made clear in private, while not raising any of the issues mentioned in her letter.”

Bridget Prentice: Former Labour MP rebukes ‘Corbyn cult’ as she quits party

A former Labour MP and “proud Blairite” has quit the party and launched a ferocious attack on Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit and antisemitism. Bridget Prentice, a government whip and junior minister for 18 years as a Labour MP, also hit out at a “Corbyn cult” and claimed the party had been destroyed.

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