Frank Field gets clapped off the pitch by both Labour and Tory MPs
The veteran Labour politician will now sit as an independent Labour MP.
Back in 2015, the New Statesman reported that Frank Field was considering standing as an independent. “If candidates are picked off they will stand as independent Labour, cause a by-election immediately and a whole pile of us will go down there to campaign for them,” he told political editor George Eaton.
Three years later the first part has finally happened with Field resigning the party whip and accusing Jeremy Corbyn (who he once nominated for leader) of becoming “a force for anti-Semitism” in British politics. In a letter to Labour chief whip Nick Brown, he said he will now sit as an "independent Labour MP".
The reaction of Labour types has been mixed, with many noting that Field was already facing deselection threats from his local party over his pro-Brexit stance. According to various Corbynites, the Birkenhead MP is merely jumping before he is pushed. "Frank Field was about to be deselected by his local Labour Party after voting to prop up the Tory government, and jumped before he was pushed. End of story," tweeted Owen Jones.
Or as one senior Labour source put it: "Frank has been looking for an excuse to resign for some time."
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson struck a different tone as he spoke for all the other Labour MPs who might be considering whether to walk out on Jeremy Corbyn. "This is a serious loss to the party and I deeply regret Frank’s decision. It reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us. It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature," he said.
Perhaps less helpfully for Field, he received a similarly glowing endorsement from Andrew Bridgen, who is known in Westminster as a staunch Brexiteer and one of the most outspoken figures on the right wing of the Conservative party...