‘Seismic day for British politics’: How the papers sum up Labour split
Seven MPs resigned from the Labour Party on Monday.
Another dramatic day in British politics features on several front pages on Tuesday – with national newspapers eager to have their say on what the Labour split could mean for the country.
The Daily Mail says Labour was “blown apart” by the announcement from seven MPs that they were resigning from the party, and labels Jeremy Corbyn a “leader who’s lost the plot”.
In a strongly-worded leading article, the paper calls it a “truly seismic day for British politics”, and jumps to the defence of the newly formed Independent Group, made up of Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.
“Seven Labour MPs took a brave stand against the rancid culture of bigotry and intolerance which has infected, colonised and taken an iron grip on the party they once loved”, the paper says.
It adds: “For Jeremy Corbyn, this was a day of profound, irredeemable shame.”
The Sun is more cautious with its praise for the group of seven, suggesting in its leader that a new politics cannot be built “when your foundation stone is an attempt to reverse the biggest democratic mandate in our history”.
But, describing the MPs as “principled and brave”, it adds: “(They) have finally leapt into the unknown. Brexit aside, good luck to them. Now the lifeboat is launched, it’s time the others clambered aboard.”
The Times describes the news as “a seismic moment in what has become our rolling national political crisis”.
The paper says the group may have performed an “important public service”, adding: “Whether the defectors can go one better than the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and succeed in creating a new force in British politics capable of destroying the old party system and winning power is an open question.
“There’s little doubt that in holding out the prospect of creating a new party they are responding to what appears to be a deep public appetite for an alternative to the traditional parties.”
The Times 19/2/2019— The Times Pictures (@TimesPictures) February 18, 2019
Labour MPs including, Luciana Berger, (centre) and Chuka Umunna (2nd right), announced their resignations in Westminster and the creation of The Independent Group in the House of Commons. Photo : Stefan Rousseau/PA#thetimes #tomorrowspaperstoday @thetimes pic.twitter.com/MjAKc8jg7f
The immediate impact of the split could be on Brexit, the paper says, with the decisive moment set to come when MPs must decide whether to back Theresa May’s deal or delay Brexit.
“That is when the strains on the party system may reach breaking point, when dreams of realignment may yet become reality,” it adds.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror says the split could prove a boost to the Conservatives, saying: “The only winner is May herself.”
“What happens next is crucial, more Labour MPs ripping up party cards to join what is calling itself an Independent Group would be another gift for the Conservatives,” it writes in its leader.
The paper says Labour should consider why the seven MPs quit, to avoid more following suit and to unite the party.
“The prospect of a Labour government is a little more remote today and the Tories a little more secure as a result of the split,” it adds.