BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field has resigned the Labour whip in protest at what he called the 'toleration of anti-semitism' and 'culture of nastiness' among its membership. 

In a letter 'reluctantly' written to Chief Whip Nick Brown today, the veteran politician - who has been the town's Member of Parliament since 1979 - said it was with 'considerable sadness' that he had taken the decision, adding that he would continue to serve his constituency as an independent Labour MP. 

In his letter, the 76-year-old cited what he called 'the party's toleration of anti-semitism' and 'culture of nastiness, bullying and intimidation locally' as reasons for his decision.

He said he also hoped to be in a position to seek the whip again as soon as possible.

In a statement Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thanked Mr Field for his service to the party.

A spokesperson for the group said it was not possible to remain a Labour member after resigning the whip.

Mr Field - who lost a motion of no confidence last month in his own constituency party after voting with the Government in a knife-edge Brexit vote - will meet the Chief Whip to discuss the issue tomorrow.

In his letter, he wrote: "I am resigning the whip for two principal reasons.

"The first centres on the latest example of Labour's leadership becoming a force for anti-Semitism in British politics.

"The latest example, from last week, comes after a series of attempts by Jeremy to deny that past statements and actions by him were anti-semitic.

"Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack.

"It saddens me that we are increasingly seen as a racist party. This issue compels me to resign the whip.

"The second reason is that culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation now reigns in too many parts of the party nationally.

"The current excuses for the Party's toleration of anti-Semitism must cease and the party needs to regain its position as being the leading force against racism in this country.

"Second, the party must recognise the culture of nastiness, bullying and intimidation that it has allowed to grow unchecked and expel local members whose public conduct is simply disgraceful."

In the letter he said allegations made to Labour about bullying had resulted in 'no decisive action'.

He cited the particular case of former Wirral councillor Louise Reecejones, suspended by the party after being found to have breached numerous Wirral Council codes by, in Mr Field's words, "using her position as councillor to intimidate members of the public".

In his letter Mr Field said he had written to the Labour party about the councillor, complaining that "while she was withdrawn as a Council candidate in Wallasey, she has still been able to join the party's shortlist for another seat and continues to hold an official position within the local party".

He continued: "The party needs to send out a clear signal against nastiness, bullying, and intimidation at every level by taking effective action."

The party spokesperson said: "The complaint cited in Mr Field’s resignation letter references a historical complaint which was previously resolved, after being fully investigated in line with Party rules and procedures.

"The Labour party investigates all complaints of bullying, abuse and discrimination."

Looking to the future, Mr Field said: "I intend to continue to represent Birkenhead in Westminster, as I have had the honour to do so for almost 40 years, and I will do so as an independent Labour Member.

"I shall of course remain a party member as I have been since 1960.

"The values I have espoused during this time will be the same that will continue to govern my conduct and I also intend, providence willing, is called.

"Few events would give me greater pleasure than to apply to the Parliamentary Labour Party for the whip.

"But great changes in the leadership's stance on the issues outlined in this letter will need to take place before I will be able to do so." 

Commenting on Mr Field’s decision to resign the Labour Party whip Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly told the Globe: "Frank Field’s reasons for leaving the Labour Party are self-evident.

"Reports of bullying, intimidation and nastiness are rife on social media taken along with the drift in the Labour Party to the extreme left and its association with racist and anti-Semitic views this Corbynite Labour party must cut most moderate Labour members to the bone - Mr Field is right to call them out on this."

Cllr Kelly, who was Mr Field’s Liberal Democrat opponent in the General elections of 2005 and 2010, continued: "Mr Field has never been what could be described as left wing and the current Labour party must feel like an very alien place even worse perhaps than the militant takeover of the 1980s.

"The Liberal Democrats continue to have strong policy disagreements with our new 'independent' MP, not least on Mr Field's continued support for Brexit, which we feel will harm many of Birkenhead's most vulnerable and poorest residents and look forward to continuing to debate these issues with him."