Election blow for Labour as thousands quit party in wake of Brexit row

Posted On: 
3rd February 2017

Thousands of Labour members have quit the party in the past week following a major row over the party's stance on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for his stance on Article 50
PA Images

Around 7,000 are thought to have resigned since Jeremy Corbyn announced he was ordering his MPs to back the triggering of Article 50.

However, senior party sources claimed last night that around 3,000 new supporters had joined the party over the same period.

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Some of those who had left were also long-term supporters who had allowed their memberships to lapse, one insider told PoliticsHome.

Meanwhile, Labour lost a council seat in a traditional heartland last night following a massive swing to the pro-EU Liberal Democrats.

The Lib Dems saw their vote share increase by 50% to gain the Brinsworth and Catcliffe seat on Rotherham Borough Council with a majority of nearly 1,500.



There was better news for Labour in the nearby ward of Dinnington, however, with the party gaining the seat from Ukip.



Despite thousands of Labour members quitting, it still remains the largest mass membership party in Europe.

Membership has soared to well over half a million under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, although many of those who have signed up in the past 18 months have grown increasingly disillusioned with his EU stance.

Mr Corbyn suffered a major rebellion in Wednesday night's Commons vote on the Government's Article 50 bill, with 47 of his MPs - including 15 shadow ministers - defying his three-line whip to back the legislation.

Former party member Martin Heneghan, from Sheffield, told The Times: "Brexit is the biggest political event since the Second World War and Labour is now on the wrong side of history."