Jeremy Corbyn has denied there is a ‘wide scale’ bullying problem within Labour as the total number of MPs quitting his party rose to nine.
The Labour leader has seen a number of high-profile resignations this week, with the majority deciding to join the newly-formed Independent Group.
Former minister Ian Austin quit the party today, saying he was ‘ashamed’ of Labour, which had developed a ‘culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance’ under Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn has denied claims of bullying within Labour (Picture: AFP/Getty)The Dudley North MP, whose Jewish adoptive father was forced to flee the Nazis as a child, said the leadership was ‘not capable’ of dealing with the anti-Semitism which had been allowed to ‘flourish’ under Corbyn’s leadership.
He added that he thought the current leader was not fit to be prime minister and warned other MPs were considering their position in the party.
Dad shook his baby to death ‘for interrupting football match’Mr Austin said he had no plans to join his eight former colleagues – alongside three former Tory MPs – in the new Independent Group which, unlike him, backs a second EU referendum.
However, Corbyn has flatly denied any widespread problem in the party and said any ‘bad behaviour’ was dealt with.
He said: ‘There is no place for harshness, bullying or anything else in the party. I don’t believe that it exists on a wide scale.
Ian Austin became the latest MP to quit (Picture: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament)‘Where there is bad behaviour we deal with it. Where there is a problem we deal with it.’
Labour said it regretted Mr Austin’s decision but called on him to quit as an MP and fight a by-election in the seat he has held since 2017 – a call he rejected.
Mr Corbyn also took issue with claims by deputy leader Tom Watson that the party did have a problem.
British grandma sentenced to death in Bali ‘doesn’t fear firing squad’‘I will be speaking to Tom Watson in the very near future to talk to him about that,’ he said.
‘He has made a comment. It is his comment, not mine. Of course I disagree with him.’
Former Labour MPs Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie – who left to form the Independent Group earlier in the week – offered support to Mr Austin after his announcement.