Birmingham's nine Labour MPs have vowed to stay in the party.

They said: "We will continue to fight for the better future we know is possible, standing together as part of the Labour family, with our trade unions, socialist societies and in Parliament as Labour MP's."

The city's Labour MPs are Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), Shabana Mahmood (Lab Ladywood), Preet Kaur Gill (Lab Edgbaston), Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington), Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr), Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green), Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), Jess Phillips (Lab Yardley) and Richard Burden (Lab Northfield).

They issued a joint statement after seven former Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, announced they were resigning from the party to form a new Independent Group, which could eventually become a rival political party.

Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill
Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill

The Birmingham MPs said: " For more than a century our movement has fought for social justice, for the many and not the few.

"That's the radical tradition which our communities, our city and country need today more than ever. We came into politics to turn both our idealism and our anger at injustice, into action: real change for the common good.

"That's why we will continue to fight for the better future we know is possible, standing together as part of the Labour family, with our trade unions, socialist societies and in Parliament as Labour MP's.     

"Although we wish our colleagues had not chosen to leave, Labour must not think itself beyond criticism. As Labour members within the Labour movement, it is important that we listen to the concerns that have been raised."

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips

Mr Umunna has signalled that a new centre party could be formally created by the end of the year.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I would like to see us move as quickly as possible and certainly by the end of the year, but that's my personal view."

 

He added: "There needs to be an alternative, so that's perfectly possible. But I don't get to determine this."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been warned that more MPs will quit the party if he doesn't change.

Tom Watson, Labour's Deputy Leader and MP for West Bromwich East, said the MPs who left "have come to a premature conclusion".

But he said: "I confess I feared this day would come. And I fear now, that unless we change, we may see more days like this."

In a blunt warning to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Watson said the party should once again embrace the centre-left policies and traditions it appears to have abandoned since he became leader.

He said: "Social democratic and democratic socialist traditions, which has always been the mainstream of Labour’s political thought, is where we can find the answers to the current crisis."

The Black Country MP said he would work with Labour MPs "to develop policies within that tradition to address the challenges of the future".

Labour MP Luciana Berger announces her resignation from the Labour Party at a press conference on February 18, 2019 in London

And he called on Mr Corbyn to appoint a wider range of Labour politicians to his front bench team, rather than packing it with people from the far-left.

Mr Watson said: "The Front Bench needs once again to reflect the balance of opinion in the Parliamentary Labour Party."

The Independent Group has rejected calls to stand down from their Commons seats, which would trigger by-elections allowing local voters to decide whether they should stay on as their MPs.

 

They said the “crisis” of Brexit meant elections would be a distraction.

And they launched a series of attacks on what has become of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Ms Berger, who is Jewish and has been viciously trolled by people on social media claiming to support Mr Corbyn, said: “I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Mr Leslie said Labour’s leadership “are hostile to business large and small”, adding: “They make impossible promises which everybody knows, in their hearts, couldn’t be kept without putting the economy at risk.”

Mr Gapes said: “Jeremy Corbyn, and those around him, are on the wrong side on so many international issues, from Russia to Syria to Venezuela.

“A Corbyn Labour government would threaten our national security, and international alliances.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour needed to listen to the criticisms.

He told Sky News: "We need a mammoth, massive listening exercise and (to) address some of those criticisms that have been made."

But he played down suggestions that as many as 36 Labour MPs had been considering a split.

"I don't think there is that scale, but the key issue for us - and it was made clear at the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tom Watson said it and others - the Labour leadership, and I'm part of that, we need to keep listening, bring people in, talk to them," he said.

Mr McDonnell said the "only disagreement we have had within the party is around how we handle Brexit and I think we are bringing people together on that."