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Jewish MP who left UK Labour over anti-Semitism joins Liberal Democrats

Luciana Berger leaves Change UK, which she helped form, after poor EU parliament showing; says new home ‘unequivocally’ trying to stop Brexit; PM Johnson’s brother quits cabinet

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson (L) talks with Independent MP Luciana Berger during an event with representatives of Britain's other pro-EU political parties, to discuss Brexit, at Church House in central London on August 27, 2019 (Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson (L) talks with Independent MP Luciana Berger during an event with representatives of Britain's other pro-EU political parties, to discuss Brexit, at Church House in central London on August 27, 2019 (Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

A former Labour MP who left the party over its handling of anti-Semitism allegations announced on Thursday that she had joined the Liberal Democrat party, saying the party is “unequivocal in wanting to stop Brexit.”

Luciana Berger, who left the opposition party in February, calling it “institutionally anti-Semitic,” said Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson had offered “a vital, positive alternative” to both Labour and the Conservatives.

Swinson in return said she was “delighted” to welcome Berger to the party. “We’re thrilled to add her perspective, expertise and skills to our ever-growing parliamentary team,” Swinson said, according to the BBC.

Prior to quitting Labour, Berger faced a no confidence vote, later canceled, by local party members who said she was “continuously criticizing” leader Jeremy Corbyn amid the ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the party.

“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation,” Berger said at the time.

She formed the Change UK party alongside six other MPs but left after disappointing results in the European elections.

Berger is the fourth MP in three months to join the Liberal Democrat party, which now holds 16 seats in the 650-seat British parliament.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes out to greet Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside 10 Downing Street in central London on September 5, 2019 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt a fresh blow on Thursday when his brother Jo quit the government, saying he could no longer reconcile “family loyalty and national interest.”

Jo Johnson had campaigned strongly against Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2016, a position that put him at odds with his older and more famous brother.

But he took a job in his brother’s government as universities and science minister, a position he had held previously.

“It’s been an honour to represent Orpington (a London suburb) for nine years & to serve as a minister under three prime ministers,” Jo Johnson tweeted. “In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest — it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & minister.”

His resignation also comes a day after MPs voted to legislate to stop Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a divorce deal on October 31.

In this file photo taken on September 04, 2019 Britain’s Minister of State for Universities Jo Johnson arrives to attend a meeting of the Cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central London on September 4, 2019 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The Labour party seized on his departure.

Deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: “Once again, the people who trust Boris Johnson least are the ones who know him best.”

Pollster Joe Twyman tweeted: “It’s going to be a hell of a Christmas lunch in the Johnson household.”

BBC journalist David Cornock quipped: “A rare case of a politician resigning to spend less time with his family.”

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