Fact check: Can you deny direction by your political party and remain a member?


Frank Field, Labour Party MP for Birkenhead in northwest England since 1979, resigned the whip of the party on August 30 among ongoing claims of antisemitism in the Parliamentary Labour Party. This means that he refuses to vote on issues in line with the leadership’s wishes, or accept its discipline.

Field announced he would instead sit as an independent Labour member of parliament. He said his move was due to “intolerance, nastiness and intimidation”  in the party, which has been battling accusations of antisemitism for months.

On August 30, Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy claimed that it is not possible to resign as a Labour MP and remain a member of the Labour Party. This raises questions of whether Field would be able to sit as an independent Labour MP or not after resigning the whip.

Claim: “The Labour Party says it is not possible to resign as a Labour MP and remain a member of the Labour Party.”

Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Twitter

The Labour Party says it is not possible to resign as a Labour MP and remain a member of the Labour Party

Fact check:

True. WikiTribune understands that it is not possible to resign the whip and remain a member of the Labour Party or sit as an independent Labour MP.

A Labour Party press officer told WikiTribune in an email that resigning the Labour whip means a member also automatically opts to resign from the Labour Party, according to the party’s rules.

Therefore Frank Field cannot remain a member of the Labour Party after his resignation.

Historical cases

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  • Do you recall British MPs in similar situations who resigned the whip or a cabinet post, yet wished to remain in the party?
  • How do the rules vary between political parties in the UK?

For more background on Frank Field’s resignation, read coverage from Reuters, BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph. There’s more coverage also on Twitter.

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