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MP defies calls for byelection: Angela Smith rejects new vote after leaving Labour

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Angela Smith MP.

Angela Smith MP, who has left the Labour Party for the newly-formed Independent Group, has resisted calls to resign and trigger a byelection.

The MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge left Labour along with six of her colleagues on 18 February to form The Independent Group.

"Under our parliamentary system, MPs are elected to represent all of their constituents for the term of a parliament," Smith's office told Now Then.

"Given this and the fact, as the present leader of the official opposition once stated, people vote for their MP, not party or leader, there is no reason why there should be any byelections."

It was therefore very hurtful but not surprising when Angela resigned from the Labour Party

"I think Angela would say that wouldn't she?" said Phil Newing, secretary for the Penistone and Stocksbridge Constituency Labour Party, when Now Then put this to him.

"We campaigned on her behalf, putting in thousands of hours; delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, speaking to people, supporting our MP and successfully returning her to parliament," continued Newing.

"Many of our members did this despite their misgivings with Angela and her opposition to Labour Party policy through her support for fracking and the continued privatisation of the water industry."

"Members put personal feelings to one side in a show of loyalty, for sake of the party and the greater good that a Labour victory would represent," said Newing.

"It was therefore very hurtful but not surprising when Angela resigned from the Labour Party and made the comments she did about the people and the party that had worked so hard on her behalf."

In November 2018, Smith was the subject of a vote of no confidence by the Penistone and Stocksbridge Labour Party.

The Independent Group has not registered as a political party and currently exists as a limited company called Gemini A Ltd. This means that the group is not bound by the same rules as a political party, though they have pledged to publish donations over £7,500 in line with the rules for political parties.

"[Angela Smith] has said consistently in recent days that she feels she has the support of her constituents," said Newing. "We say let her put that to the test and face her constituents over the ballot box."

Sam Gregory

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Penistone. Photo by Bryan Ledgard.

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