Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Seven members of British Parliament said Monday they're leaving the Labor Party and will serve as independents, citing frustration with leader Jeremy Corbyn to back a second Brexit vote.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna joined Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey in declaring their Labor Party departure. The group said they will all remain in the House of Commons.
They also complained about Corbyn's handling of anti-semitism allegations, The Independent reported. The move is the biggest break from the party since the Social Democratic Party emerged from another Labor Party exodus in 1981.
Umunna told reporters Monday the group is taking steps to form a new movement and called on other politicians to join them, The Guardian reported. He added that existing British parties have "become the problem" and cannot be changed from the inside.
Berger said she's been the victim of anti-semitic attacks within her own party and accused the Labor Party of becoming "sickeningly institutionally racist."
"I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation," Berger said. "I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other."
Leslie, the party's former shadow chancellor, said the party has been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left."
Their departures highlight disagreement in British Parliament over the nation's contentious departure from the European Union, which is scheduled to occur at the end of next month. The main divisive issue has been Prime Minister Theresa May's trouble securing an agreeable trade deal between Britain and the EU. An agreement she had reached with the European body has been roundly rejected by British lawmakers and many are telling her to renegotiate. Many political and economic have expressed concern for what might happen if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Corbyn expressed regret over the group's departure but defended the party's position on Brexit.
"I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945," Corbyn said.
"The Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan. When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all."