Brighton and Hove councillor resigns from Labour Party

Posted On 20 Mar 2017 at 6:38 pm

A Brighton and Hove councillor has resigned from the Labour Party today (Monday 20 March) over the national leadership’s stance on Europe.

Michael Inkpin-Leissner, who represents Hollingdean and Stanmer on Brighton and Hove City Council, emphasised that his resignation was not a criticism of his fellow Labour councillors.

He is critical, though, of the Corbynite direction of the local constituency parties and is sensitive to concerns about anti-semitism.

He said: “When I joined the Labour Party it was a natural choice for me as a Social Democrat from Germany. Labour was a proud pro-European movement.

“The current leadership of the Labour Party seems to have forgotten that. The lukewarm stance to defend the European nationals by the parliamentary Labour group (I applaud the Lords on this occasion) made me feel more and more uncomfortable to be a part of the Labour Party.

“When I joined the Labour Party it was a centre-left party like the German SPD. Now it has been taken over by left-wingers and the Momentum extremists, who are working to build an axis with former German Communists ‘Die Linke’.

“As a German, you will understand, I can never support this and never will compromise my stance against any form of anti-semitism.

Councillor Michael Inkpin-Leissner

“Unfortunately, the position of the Labour Party, though there are strong personalities standing up against anti-semitism, seems to be not really sincere any more, proven by the lacklustre investigation of Baroness Chakrabarti.

“I have lost my faith in national Labour fighting anti-semitism and for Europe.”

Councillor Inkpin-Leissner, 49, was a passionate Remain campaigner before the “Brexit” referendum last year on whether to leave the European Union (EU).

As a German living and working in Britain, he exemplifies the advantages of the free movement of people so it is perhaps no surprise that he would oppose Brexit. He comes from the town of Emsdetten, in North Rhine-Westphalia, about 30 miles from the German border with the Netherlands.

Last week the national Labour leadership ordered the party’s MPs to back the government’s Brexit bill unamended even though Labour members of the House of Lords had voted to change it.

Councillor Inkpin-Leissner was not alone in Labour ranks in being disappointed by the lack of resistance in the Commons. He had hoped that MPs would at least vote for EU nationals like himself to retain residency rights even if they were in the end likely to be outvoted by government supporters.

Earlier today he said on Twitter and Facebook: “After a long struggle with my conscience and conversations I have made up my mind and decided.”

Councillor Inkpin-Leissner will continue to sit as an independent although no decision has been taken on whether this will mean giving up his seat on the council’s Planning Committee.

The membership of committees is divided proportionally along party lines to reflect the number of overall seats on the council held by each party.

Councillor Inkpin-Leissner has been the Labour group representative on two local organisations – the Civil Military Partnership Board and the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE). He will have to give up these roles now that he is no longer a party member.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “I would like to thank Michael for his work over the past two years on the council as a member of the Labour and Co-operative group, in particular, as our representative on the Civil Military Partnership Board.

“I understand his feelings with regard to the party’s position on Europe nationally and his personal position as a German citizen following the vote on the status of EU nationals in Parliament last week.

“Anyone who resigns from the Labour Party nationally cannot remain a member of the Labour group locally.

“Our work as an administration remains unaffected and we will continue to focus on getting the basics right, doing our best for vulnerable residents and growing the economy so that everyone benefits.”

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Best wishes to the Councillor in what is a rougher business than people realise: one’s life is not one’s own.

    Meanwhile, the question being asked increasingly is: why has Labour kicked to one side, into the wild flowers, such things as Circus Street, the King Alfred and Valley Gardens? All of which cllr Robins should be discussing.

    So far as one can tell, the only thing that Labour has wanted to do with its time is (again) to try to close down Hove’s Carnegie Library.

    • Harris Daniel Reply

      Labour activists are getting much achieved from a grassroots perspective, but agree much more needs to be done. Taking Over Kings House and Turning into Accommodation for the Homeless and a Homeless Hub would be nice.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Christopher – please can you explain the reason why you gave up your seat as a councillor? Was this for ethical or moral reasons or something else?

      But good to see you plugging on about that darned Carnegie Library – as the sale of King’s House has fallen through, the money to support this “white elephant” must be drying up. Perhaps time to resurrect the plan to provided upgraded facilities my moving library services on to an expanded Hove Museum site?

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        You seem to think that, from the sidelines, you have a right to lay down the law about the course of others’ lives.

        On the same day as the Local Elections I was standing for MP (and came third, beating ukip). It would have been feeble to stand as Councillor simultaneously.

        Not everybody wants to be doing the same thing for decades. As it is, there is much else to be doing in this thing known as life. You should try it some time.

        • Gerald Wiley Reply

          Strange that you only managed just a single stint as being a councillor and before you decided to move on to not being the MP.

          Whilst you did indeed come third, beating the UKIP candidate, you must accept that you only just achieved this and both you and the UKIP representative almost lost their deposits as you both achieved just over 6% of the vote.

          However, as you seem to be greatly involved in local politics (as a Green Party member) and still seem to get support from the likes of Phelim for your “pet” projects (such as Carnegie), it would seem that you want to act as an unofficial “councillor” and so it is only right that your intentions are questioned – especially when you decided to go on the attack on Councillor Robins in your response, when he is not even mentioned in the article!

          As an example, how much money did Phelim get allocated from the sale of King’s House to support keeping the Carnegie open?

          Perhaps you can ask your local party to put your name forward for the 2019 council elections; or even to stand for the Hollingean and Stanmer election to replace Michael Inkpin-Leissner?

          • Christopher Hawtree

            As I said, you have a hideous, dictatorial presumption in seeking to tell other people how to order the course of their lives. You are somebody who, so far as known (you use a pseudonym), who has not stood for a position but seems to think others should be part of a permanent cast.

            I suggest you add up the number of days you are likely to have left on Earth – a sobering tally – and make better use of them than displaying this obsession with others.

  2. joe Reply

    Christopher Hawtree you are incorrect as you usually are people asking why theire is a bus lane on the coast road people are asking why

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Er, you seem to be working to your own inner logic which defies others’ comprehension.

  3. Ralph Reply

    Warren Morgan, as quoted in the article, vacuously sidesteps and blatantly fails to respond to the reason Michael Inkpin-Leissner resigned, namely Labour’s wilful and continuing failure to address its top-down tolerance of antisemitism within the party. His quoting from Labour’s rule book (of which I’m sure he keeps a well-thumbed copy in his breast pocket), about ‘anyone who resigns from the Labour Party nationally cannot remain a member of the Labour group locally’ is reminiscent of Peter Seller’s petty bureaucrat trade union steward Fred Kite in ‘I’m All Right, Jack’. Keep quoting the rule book, Warren – heaven forbid you actually address the real issue.

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