The Conservatives left their party over Brexit, while the Labour members, who are widely considered centrists, accused their former party of anti-Semitism. The new Independent Group is now the fourth largest political grouping in the UK Parliament, tied with the Liberal Democrats.
Jess Cobbett, a researcher for a British Labour MP, joined radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear to discuss the resignation of the three Conservative parliamentarians, Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry, from their former party.
Earlier this week, eight Labour MPs — Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Joan Ryan — announced their resignation from the Labour Party in protest against leader Jeremy Corbyn and his handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism allegations.
"He has introduced or allowed to happen in our party this scourge of anti-Semitism. It has completely infected the party. The other huge problem is that I think Jeremy Corbyn is aiding and abetting a hard Brexit," Ryan told BBC in an interview Wednesday.
Labour has been plagued by claims of anti-Semitism ever since Corbyn, a lifelong supporter of the Palestinian cause, became its leader in 2015. Corbyn supporters say critics are conflating anti-Semitism with opposition to the policies of the Israeli state, Sputnik previously reported.
"It's very fast paced politics in the moment in the UK. It's hard to keep up with it," Cobbett told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
"This [the resignation of Labour MPS] is basically a product of how divisive the political system is at the moment as the result of Brexit. So, we have the original seven MPs, eight labor MPS and three conservative MPs who have been uniting on the front around the people's vote, which has been coined a second referendum giving a choice back to the British public, because parliament is absolutely at a deadlock. So, this is a very interesting time. It's unique, and it's an area where there is common ground between parties that have come together for various reasons, but ultimately Brexit is the driving force," Cobbett added.
When Kiriakou asked if a second referendum on Brexit could occur in the UK, Cobbett responded, "The reality is, there really hasn't been any difference in UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal over the past three or four months, and she keeps coming back to parliament and presenting the same exact deal. I can't see anything at the moment moving us along other than a second referendum, although I know that's not just popular."
Earlier this year, May defended her draft Brexit deal in the UK Parliament's House of Commons. The agreement faced criticism both from the opposition and the ruling party, with several members of May's Cabinet resigning over disagreements with the deal. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a referendum in June 2016 and is expected to do so by March 2019.
It is unclear, according to Cobbett, how the new independent political group could affect Corbyn's position in the political sphere.
"I'm not sure what this will mean in the long run for Jeremy Corbyn, because he has faced his fair share of challenges as a leader. He has won two leadership races because of how contentious he is a leader, and it seems like his leadership is cementing the hard left into supporting him," Cobbett added.