Former Ilford South MP opens up on Labour departure in new book

Former Ilford South MP Mike Gapes

A new book has been published on the experiences of five of the MPs - including former Ilford South representative Mike Gapes - who left their respective parties to form The Independent Group in February 2019. - Credit: Ken Mears

Former Ilford South MP Mike Gapes has opened up on his departure from the Labour Party in a new book.

Published on April 12, Change: The Independent Group features the recollections of Mr Gapes on the period during which the former MP - first elected in 1992 - decided he could no longer argue the Labour party represented his values.

He was one of 11 MPs who formed The Independent Group in February 2019.

Four of those - Ann Coffey, Anna Soubry, Chris Leslie and Joan Ryan - are also included in the publication.

Latterly known as The Independent Group for Change, the party was disbanded after failing to win a seat at the general election in December 2019.

In one excerpt, Mr Gapes said foreign policy was the most important reason for his decision to leave Labour, as well as issues of anti-Semitism and Brexit.

He also explores the practical realities of leaving a political party in the book.

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He outlines how he lost his Labour-owned office and his constituency staff.

In the 2019 general election, he came third in the Ilford South seat, which was taken by Labour's Sam Tarry.

Losing his seat could have represented a sad ending to his career, but the former MP has no regrets. 

He makes it clear in the book that the decision to leave Labour and form a new party was steeped in principle and, though not a political success, is one he would repeat. 

Making a comparison between the now-disbanded party and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Mr Gapes doesn't waver from his belief that to leave was all he could do.

He spent three weeks in an induced coma, and six in intensive care in late 2015 to early 2016 after major heart surgery.

The 68-year-old wrote: "That close encounter with death has shaped my thinking on everything I now do in politics and life.

"Every day is a bonus. When I came out of hospital, I vowed I wasn’t going to prevaricate anymore."

Change: The Independent Group is available on Amazon.