The row over claims that Bradford West MP George Galloway may stand for Mayor of London in two years time has taken a new twist today. All five Respect councillors at Bradford Council have resigned the whip in protest at the party's suspension of two of their members. David Hirst reports.
A councillor from Bradford, suspended from the Respect party, says he is demanding a full retraction of comments made against him and five others.
Councillor Mohammad Shabbir was suspended alongside another of the city's Respect councillors over comments he allegedly made about about George Galloway considering running for Mayor of London.
Now he says he and the city's four other Respect Councillors have quit the party.
A Bradford councillor, suspended by the Respect Party over comments he allegedly made about about George Galloway considering running for Mayor of London, says he and the city's four other Respect councillors have stepped down from the party.
Two Respect party councillors from Bradford are facing disciplinary action over claims that they've been disloyal to the party.
The Respect Party, led by George Galloway who was elected as an MP in the city last year in a landslide victory are questioning the councillors loyalty to the party on a national level.
It comes amid speculation that Mr Galloway himself may be considering putting himself forward as a future Mayor of London when the post comes up for re-election in three years time.
The leader of Respect, Salma Yaqoob, has resigned, blaming a breakdown in "relations of trust and collaborative working" at the top of the party.
Ms Yaqoob clashed with Respect's only MP, George Galloway, over his comments about the sexual assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In a podcast last month, the Bradford West MP said allegations against Mr Assange did not constitute rape "as most people understand it", and amounted to no more than "bad sexual etiquette".
Mr Galloway later clarified his remarks, insisting he had always believed non-consensual sex was rape.
Ms Yaqoob condemned the original comments as "deeply disappointing and wrong" and said at the time that the complaints made by two women in Sweden should not be "belittled or dismissed". Mr Assange has denied the allegations.
The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down. I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close. I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect. The policies we have fought for need to be voiced as loud as ever in opposition to a political establishment that remains out of touch with working people.
I would like to thank everyone in the party for their support over the years. I wish everyone the very best for the future and in those common struggles for peace, justice and equality that I am sure we will all continue to be involved in."
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