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‘I need to be true to myself’ says Ilford South MP Mike Gapes on leaving Labour

As the fallout continues over seven Labour MPs quitting the party, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes gives his reasons for leaving the party he has been part of since 1977.

The announcement was made yesterday, but Mr Gapes says he had been thinking about leaving for some time.

“For about a year, I’ve felt increasingly unhappy about the direction that the Labour Party has been taking under Jeremy Corbyn and those around him,” he told Time 107.5.

“I’ve got disagreements with the party’s position. It’s trying to facilitate Brexit rather than oppose it.

“I’ve felt increasingly unhappy and, frankly, I had to make a decision.

“Am I prepared to go out on a doorstep at a general election and say that I would support a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister?

“I can’t do that and so I’ve got to be true to myself.”

Despite increasingly feeling the party was not for him, he says it was a difficult decision.

“This is a very hard personal decision but I’ve got to be true to myself.

“There have been conversations going on between different Labour MPs for some months.

“There are many other Labour MPs who share our analysis but they haven’t yet come to the personal decision – which is a very difficult, personal decision – to leave a political party that you belong to and thought you would never, ever leave.

“I know there are many of my colleagues who are in Parliament who are in a similar position politically but they haven’t yet made that decision.”

He went on to say he thinks politics in the UK is changing from the traditional Labour and Conservative politics to a new way of representing views across the spectrum. 

At the moment, the seven ex-Labour MPs will sit in parliament as a non-formal group of independent MPs but Mr Gapes says in the future they may formalise their relationship.

“I think probably there is (room for a new political party in the middle), I think that remains to be seen. At the moment we are just a group of independent MPs.

“Whether there will be a new political party will depend on what develops over the coming weeks and months.

“We will see how this develops. We’re going to sit as an independent group, we’re going to sit together.

“In a few days, we’re going to have a meeting to determine what portfolios each of us are going to lead on and then we’re going to take it from there.”

Mr Gapes will continue as MP for Ilford South but says his days of representing Labour are most definitely over.  

“I won’t be going back in the Labour Party. I never thought I would say this but I cannot be a Labout MP any longer.”

“I will continue to represent my constituents in Ilford South. I will work hard for them as I always have done.”

“I haven’t changed, my views are the same. I will still be the local man with a national voice and I will continue to do that.”

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