(JTA) — Luciana Berger, a British-Jewish lawmaker, has quit the Labour Party over its anti-Semitism problem, along with six other members of the House of Commons.
Berger, who frequently has spoken out about anti-Semitic hate speech directed at her and other Jews by Labour members, and the others announced their resignation on Monday, dealing a major blow to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.
Berger said it had been a “difficult, painful but necessary decision” for them all but that Labour has become “sickeningly institutionally racist,” she said. She had felt “embarrassed and ashamed” to be in the Labour Party because of its failure to tackle anti-Semitism in its ranks, she added.
“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation. I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other,” she said.
She and the six other centrist lawmakers – Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey – will form an independent group, they said.
Whereas Berger referenced anti-Semitism as her main reason for leaving, others cited what they said was a passive attitude by Corbyn, a far-left politician, to Britain’s nearing pullout from the European Union, among other leadership issues.
Labour’s ethics committee has received thousands of complaints about anti-Semitism since Corbyn became its leader in 2015. He has vowed to punish anyone caught engaging in hate speech but only a fraction of the members who have been documented doing so have been punished.