Former cabinet minister Clare Short has announced that she has resigned as a Labour MP. She will sit as an independent for the rest of this parliament and will not vote with the government.
In a letter to the Chief Whip, Ms Short said she could no longer remain in the Parliamentary Labour Party. The 60-year-old political veteran had previously announced that she will not contest the next election.
She has been the MP for Birmingham Ladywood since 1983.
In March this year the former international development secretary angered gay rights activists and fellow MPs by inviting Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group who regularly preach anti-gay messages, to the House of Commons.
Short recently said that it would be better for the Labour party to lose the next election, which led the Chief Whip to censure her.
In her letter of resignation to Chief Whip Jacqui Smith, she said:
“It is my view that our political system is in trouble and that the exaggerated majorities in the House of Commons have led to an abject parliament and a concentration of power in Number 10 that has produced arrogant, error-prone government.
“Given that the next election might well produce a hung parliament, I want to be free to argue that this creates a valuable opportunity to reform our voting system so that the House of Commons more accurately reflects public opinion, and we have a parliament more able to hold the government to account and to ensure that policy is well considered.”
In her 23-year parliamentary career, the maverick MP has resigned from Labour’s front bench on three occasions, twice over the Gulf Wars and once over prevention of terrorism legislation.
Her final resignation, in 2003, lost her much of her credibility with the left of the party, as she had remained as International Development Secretary during the initial stages of military action in Iraq.
She once accused Alan Clark of being drunk at the dispatch box, and tried to have Page 3 topless photos banned.
Ms Short remains a member of the Labour party, but will not take the whip on any votes.
A Conservative party spokesman said: “The Labour Party is divided and paralysed, and it is no surprise that Clare Short has decided to jump ship.”
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