Labour 'splinter' warning as speculation mounts that MPs preparing to quit party
A leading Labour backbencher has warned that the party is set to "splinter" as speculation mounts that some of its MPs are on the verge of quitting.
Stephen Kinnock - whose father was Labour leader for nearly 10 years - said it was "unlikely" that some of his colleagues will not resign the party whip amid mounting anger over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.
Critics are angry at Mr Corbyn's reluctance to back a second EU referendum, as well as the leadership's failure to deal with the anti-semitism row which has dogged Labour in recent years.
Westminster has been abuzz with rumours of a breakaway centrist party for months, and there is speculation that some Labour resignations could even take place today.
Leading moderate Chuka Umunna, who has been an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn over Brexit and has claimed Labour is "institutionally anti-semitic" did not respond to calls over rumours that he could be first to go.
Appearing on Radio Four's Westminster Hour on Sunday night, Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said: "The talk has been going on so long that I say with great regret that yes, there probably will be some kind of splintering.
"It just seems to have been in the rumour mill so long that it’s unlikely that wouldn’t be the outcome."
Michael Dugher, a former vice-chair of the Labour party and a member of the Shadow Cabinet under both Ed Miliband and Mr Corbyn, announced on Sunday that he was quitting the party.
He said: "I will continue to have lots of dear friends in the Labour party, including many talented MPs and hard-working local councillors who are fantastically dedicated public servants,” he wrote in the Sun on Sunday.
"Yet in all good conscience, I can no longer justify paying subs to a party which I now regard as institutionally anti-Semitic."
But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said a Labour split would only benefit the Tories.
He said: "It would be like the 1980s. In my constituency in Hayes and Harlington we had a Labour MP join the SDP and we lost the seat to the Conservatives. And it basically installed Mrs Thatcher in power for that decade.
"I don’t think any of the people who have even been mentioned around this split would want that."