The Rebel MP Frank Field has resigned from the Labour Party whip. The veteran Brexiteer who voted with the Conservatives on an amendment to the Brexit trade bill. Many believed a defeat on this bill would have caused members of May’s own party to trigger a vote of no confidence in the PM.
Birkenhead CLP’s had passed a motion that moved to withdraw the Labour whip from Frank Field and bar him from all future selections but the MP has jumped before he could be pushed.
The Birkenhead MP blamed a “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation” in local parties, referring to the local party’s effort to deselect him over his right wing and pro-Brexit views but also stated antisemitism as a reason for his resignation.
The efforts to deselect Field began when he voted with other Brexiteer Labour MPs to vote against an amendment that would see the UK stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit if no deal with the EU was reached. Tory whips stated that if the government lost the vote senior Brexiteers would trigger a vote of no confidence in the government which may have resulted in a general election. With Labour 5 points clear in the polls this has been seen as a betrayal. It is also worth noting staying in a negotiated customs union with the EU is part of Labour’s policy on Brexit.
Field will remain as a member of the party but will sit as an independent Labour MP.
In a tweet, the Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon called for Field to call a by-election.
Politicians who are elected as Labour MPs by their constituents and who then leave the Labour Party should do the right and respectful thing and call a by-election straight away. They should ask for their constituents’ consent to continue to represent them on a different basis.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) August 30, 2018