Politics

Jess Phillips Hints At Leaving Labour If Jeremy Corbyn Remains Leader

"I can’t imagine why I'd want to stay somewhere I am so obviously not welcome," the Birmingham Yardley MP said.

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Labour MP Jess Phillips has signalled she could leave the party if Jeremy Corbyn remains leader because she no longer feels welcome.

The Birmingham Yardley MP said she received constant abuse online, including numerous death threats, and urged Corbyn to stand up and defend her.

On Sunday Corbyn denied that nastiness within the party had increased since he became leader last September – and said he received "more abuse than anybody else". He told The Observer: "The best way of dealing with abuse is: ignore it."

But Phillips said she was sent abusive messages every single day, including a picture of a "woman with a spear through her heart" with her own face added to it.

She was asked on BBC Radio 4's World at One whether she had considered standing as an independent MP if Corbyn won the leadership contest against his rival Owen Smith.

"The Labour party is in a very difficult position at the moment with a lot of abuse being thrown around," Phillips said.

"It would be very, very difficult for me to say that if Jeremy Corbyn wins and something doesn’t dramatically change in the way people are being treated online, in the streets, our security, I can’t imagine why I'd want to stay somewhere I am so obviously not welcome."

The interview was aired on Tuesday but recorded in late July, just before MPs broke up for summer recess. Phillips tweeted a photo on 28 July of a locksmith "spending six hours to make my home safe".

Locksmith spending 6hrs to make my home safe.Think abt how my kids feel next time you mock up a picture of me dying

Hitting out at Corbyn, she said pointedly that this level of abuse simply had not happened under previous leader Ed Miliband.

"I don’t feel welcome by huge swaths of people from now the Labour party," she said. "Every single day I receive messages saying I'm not good enough, I should lose my job – and that’s the tamest stuff.

"Last week someone thought it was funny to mock up a picture of a woman with a spear through her heart and put my face on it. I’ve got two small kids, I’m a human being, I’m a woman who takes her kids on the school run. Nobody sees beyond the title and realises how damaging it is to somebody."

And she demanded action from Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell. "I’d like to see them praising the work of Labour MPs and saying, ‘Don’t you dare have a go at these people, they’re doing a perfectly good job.'

"But I don’t hear that – I just hear the empty rhetoric about the kinder, gentler politics. This never happened under Ed Miliband."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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