Labour defectors must stand for re-election, says Jeremy Corbyn
21 February 2019, 09:46 | Updated: 21 February 2019, 15:51
Jeremy Corbyn has said the eight Labour MPs who quit his party over antisemitism and his Brexit stance should resign and fight by-elections.
The Labour leader said the "democratic thing for them to do" was to let voters endorse their decision in a fresh poll.
His comments contradict remarks he made in a tweet in April 2010 when he said people vote for their MPs in elections "rather than a party/leader".
A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn has not yet responded to questions about why his view appears to have changed.
Mr Corbyn has also declined to speak to journalists following the defection of the MPs to the new Independent Group.
In his latest video message released by Labour on Twitter, Mr Corbyn said the party was "at our best when we work together".
"It's disappointing that some MPs have left our party to sit with disaffected Tories," he said.
"But we cannot return to the failed, business-as-usual politics of the past.
"These MPs now want to abandon the policies on which they were elected.
"So the decent and democratic thing for them to do is resign and put themselves up for election."
On Wednesday, the group was joined by three other MPs - Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston - who said they had quit the Conservative Party because an "awkward squad" of hardline Leavers were now running the party "from top to toe".
The 11 newly independent MPs from both Conservative and Labour wings say they will not call by-elections because the parties have changed - not them.
One Labour MP, who is said to be on the edge of quitting, told Sky News in response to Mr Corbyn's video: "He doesn't have the ability or the capacity to reach out."
Mr Corbyn's tone was markedly different from his elected deputy, Tom Watson, who said at points he did not "recognise" the Labour Party.
He added: "Unless we change, we may see more days like this".
Shortly before the Labour leader released his video, one of the MPs who quit Labour this week said she and the other defectors had faced increased online abuse from left-wing activists and supporters of Mr Corbyn since leaving the party.
Luciana Berger - who is heavily pregnant - revealed in an emotional Commons debate on antisemitism that there had been a rise in "insidious antisemitic conspiracy theories" against her.
She said she had been called an agent of Mossad and "a traitor to my country".
She added: "And just yesterday an individual who says they are a member of the Labour party and with the hashtag #JCforPM in their bio... said: 'Shame on Luciana Berger, A Zionist Bitch, I hate her, I hate her baby, her Israel'."
But she pledged: "I will certainly not be intimidated, bullied or silenced."
(c) Sky News 2019: Labour defectors must stand for re-election, says Jeremy Corbyn