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  1. ITV Report

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith's resignation speech in full

Angela Smith MP

Angela Smith's resignation speech at this morning's news conference:

I was born to a Labour family in 1961. My father was a printer by trade and my mother started work when I was a teenager, eventually moving on to a job as a receptionist in the NHS.

For my parents, working-class pride was not about enjoying poverty and wearing it as a badge of honour. It was about self-respect and believing that we could do better, that there was nothing wrong in getting on in life.

This is one of the values that has underpinned my political affiliation all my life. I believe in aspiration and know that people do not want to be patronised by left-wing intellectuals who think that being poor and working class constitutes a state of grace.

I also believe that everyone in our country bears a responsibility to make a contribution towards keeping our society safe and prosperous.

In return, the state has a role to play in enabling individuals to make the best of themselves and the opportunities available to them. It has a responsibility to maintain national security and to keep people safe at home. And it has a responsibility to foster economic growth, in the context of a mixed economy.

Unfortunately, the Labour Party no longer reflects these values. It has undergone major change since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leaderin 2015, changes which have destroyed the proud political movement built by our predecessors. Labour is a party now characterised by intolerance and fuelled by hatred for anything other than a hard left political agenda; it fosters division rather than unity and despises all those who dare to disagree with its fundamentalist approach to political debate.

I cannot, in all conscience, continue to affiliate with a Labour Party that I consider unfit for government. It is not alone in this; our politics is broken and all the main parties are incapable of inspiring confidence in the future. The level of alienation from the political process on the part of the people is at a record high, with the chaos and conflict characterising Brexit encapsulating perfectly the sense of deadlock and hopelessness which pervades our political culture.

That is why I have decided to join with my colleagues in forming a new group of Independent MPs. It is time for change, time for a politics no longer prejudiced by the domination of political parties which exist as an end in themselves, rather than as a means to an end.

It is time to put the country first.