POLITICS
31/08/2018 10:05 BST | Updated 31/08/2018 11:21 BST

Frank Field May Trigger By-Election After His Shock Resignation Of Labour Whip

Veteran MP said losing would be "noble" way to go after calling Jeremy Corbyn "a force for anti-Semitism".

Frank Field has said he may trigger by-election after dramatically resigning the Labour whip over anti-Semitism and bullying rows engulfing Jeremy Corbyn’s party. 

The veteran Birkenhead MP sent shockwaves through Westminster on Thursday when he revealed he would no longer represent the party in Parliament because he felt Corbyn had become “a force for anti-Semitism” in the country. 

Now the 76-year-old has said he is weighing up whether to quit the Commons and fight a by-election in the Merseyside seat he has held since 1979. 

Field went on to say that if the voters reject his bid for re-election, it would be a “noble way to go”. 

It comes as speculation swirls over whether other Labour MPs could follow suit and walk, and as chief whip Nick Brown tells Field he cannot be a card-carrying Labour member while refusing to be a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party. 

Field told The Times he was “obviously thinking about” a by-election and had to “consider options”.

He said: “I want to stand as the Labour candidate for Birkenhead but, if not, I will stand as the independent Labour candidate – and if the electorate doesn’t want me then that is a very noble way to go.”

Corbyn loyalists rounded on Field after the news emerged late on Thursday, stating that, after Field lost a no-confidence vote in his local party, he had jumped before he was pushed. 

Others, including shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon and Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden, demanded Field move to trigger a by-election. 

 

Deputy leader Tom Watson, meanwhile, said it was a “wake up call” for Labour, signalling that a split in the party could be imminent. 

Field, who currently serves as chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, wrote to Brown this week to claim the party was guilty of tolerating “thuggish” behaviour by some of its members.

“I am resigning the whip for two principal reasons. The first centres on the latest example of Labour’s leadership becoming a force for anti-semitism in British politics,” he said.

“The latest example, from last week, comes after a series of attempts by Jeremy to deny that past statements and actions by him were anti-semitic.

PA Wire/PA Images
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Field continued: “Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack.

“The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values. It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party. This issue alone compels me to resign the whip.”

Field also referred in his letter to a dispute with his local party – in which he lost a no confidence vote last month after voting with the government on Brexit.