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John Woodcock challenged to hold by-election after quitting Labour

JOHN WOODCOCK has been challenged by Labour to call a by-election after “abandoning” the party with a scornful attack on its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Woodcock quit Labour this morning and said he is prepared to vote with the Conservatives as an independent MP for Barrow and Furness “if required.”

The party pariah has been sitting as an independent since having the Labour whip withdrawn in April pending investigation of an allegation of sexual harassment towards to a former staff member between 2014 and 2016.

Mr Woodcock’s resignation means the Labour investigation cannot be concluded.

Labour’s Chris Williamson told the Morning Star that Mr Woodcock’s departure was “long overdue.”

He said: “He had clearly lost touch with his local members and was massively out of step.

“Not just with Labour supporters, but with the overwhelming majority of the British public, who have comprehensively turned their back on the discredited New Labour ideology to which Mr Woodcock continues to cling.”

Mr Woodcock continued with his attacks on Mr Corbyn in his resignation letter, claiming there was little chance of Labour being an “inclusive, mainstream electoral force.”

He has clashed with Mr Corbyn over his stance on nuclear weapons, military interventions in Syria and Palestinian rights and hyping up claims of anti-semitism within the party.

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign co-secretary Rosa Gilbert welcomed his departure and said Mr Woodcock brought the party into disrepute though his “obsession with promoting the most despotic regimes and human rights abusers in the world.”

“It is simply astonishing that he claimed to uphold Labour values while going on junkets to buff up the tyrannical and genocidal Erdogan regime in Turkey, meeting with the fascist MHP party whose paramilitary group Grey Wolves murder Kurds with impunity, all paid for by a shady think tank with financial links to Isis oil sales,” she told the Star.

Mr Woodcock has previously defended Turkey’s military offence against Afrin in Syria, which Ms Gilbert said was “sickening” and that he was “in no position to lecture on minority rights.”

Unite the union general secretary Len McCluskey said Mr Woodcock’s resignation from the party was “no big deal.”

“He resigned from Labour’s values a long time ago,” he said.

Mr McCluskey had previously called out Mr Woodcock and other Corbyn critics of “working overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-semitism and bullying.”

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