Feb. 22 (UPI) -- British lawmaker Ian Austin on Friday became the ninth member of Parliament to walk away from the Labor Party this week, he said due to concerns about anti-Semitic leadership.
Austin said Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who's long been a supporter of Palestinian rights, has created a culture of "extremism" and "intolerance" in the party, particularly in the way he's treated Jewish people and those who stand against anti-Semitism.
"The Labor Party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take," Austin, who was adopted by Jewish parents, told the Express & Star. "But I have to be honest and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn."
"It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good [lawmakers] and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics," he added. "The hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about anti-Semitism than it is on the anti-Semites."
Lawmaker Joan Ryan, who also left the party this week, had made similar statements about Corbyn.
Eight others left the party this week over concerns with the way party leaders are handling Britain's departure from the European Union. But Austin said he will not join an independent coalition like they have, largely because he doesn't share their views on Brexit negotiations.
Austin was one of just three Labor Party lawmakers to vote for Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal last month.
Corbyn has demanded that Labor lawmakers who leave the party quit Parliament altogether, and run for re-election under a new party.
"He was elected as a Labor [lawmaker] and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the [voters] decide who should represent them," a Labor Party spokesman said.
Austin said he plans to continue representing Dudley North, located west of Birmingham, as he has since 2005. He joined the party in 1984 and has held multiple leadership positions since.
"One of the main reasons I joined the Labor Party as a teenager here in Dudley more than 35 years ago was to fight racism, and I could never have believed I would be leaving the Labor party because of racism too," he told BBC News Friday.