Calls for by-election as MP quits Labour

Enfield North MP Joan Ryan cites anti-Semitism as reason for resignation, reports James Cracknell

Enfield North constituents are calling for a by-election after Joan Ryan resigned from the Labour Party.

Joan became the eighth Labour MP to split from the party this week and join an ‘Independent Group’ that wants a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal with the European Union.

Joan Ryan MP (credit parliament.uk) web
Joan Ryan MP (credit parliament.uk)

Joan, who was chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), cited concerns over anti-Semitism and a “bullying, aggressive attitude” that she says has arisen under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Members of Enfield North Constituency Labour Party (CLP) passed a motion of no confidence in Joan last September over her criticism of Corbyn and are now calling for a by-election to be held.

Maria McCaul, Enfield North CLP secretary, told the Dispatch: “I’m relieved she has resigned because Joan has, on a number of occasions, publicly shown that she does not support this Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

“I will be calling for her to resign to allow for a by-election. If Joan Ryan truly has the interest of our vulnerable residents who are suffering tremendously under this Tory government, she will step aside. Even among her supporters in the CLP, it is the majority view.”

In a Dispatch Twitter poll to which nearly 300 people responded, 70% of people said they wanted a by-election. If an MP does not quit parliament, however, voters need a ‘recall’ petition to be signed by 10% of constituents to force a by-election.

Joan’s resignation swiftly followed those of seven other Labour MPs who all condemned Corbyn’s stance on Brexit and refusal to back a second EU referendum. They also criticised the way the party has handled anti-Semitism complaints.

In her resignation letter, Joan said: “Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism. This problem simply did not exist in the party before his election. No previous Labour leader would have allowed this huge shame to befall the party.

“I have been horrified, appalled and angered to see the Labour leadership’s dereliction of duty in the face of this evil.”

Joan has been MP for Enfield North since 2015, after winning back the seat she lost in 2010 and first won in 1997. At the 2017 General Election her majority increased ten-fold.

Maria, CLP secretary, added: “The rise in anti-Semitism is a huge concern, as is the emboldened far right following the Brexit vote. Where we have anti-Semitism, I don’t think we have more of it than is prevalent in public life, and I am concerned Joan Ryan is focusing on it as a predominant force within Labour – I don’t recognise that.

“What she has shown is that she is ideologically opposed to Jeremy Corbyn.”