JOHN Woodcock says the resignation of seven Labour MPs to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons marks the beginning of “a time of great hope”.

The Barrow and Furness MP - already independent having resigned from the Labour Party amid outspoken opposition to leader Jeremy Corbyn - has not yet said whether he will be joining the group.

But he tweeted yesterday: “It was inspiring and humbling to see my friends setting out why they are leaving the Labour Party to start something new.

“A sad day for them but the beginning of a time of great hope for all those of us who want our country and our politics to change.”

Yesterday’s move was described as the most significant split in British politics for a generation.

Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey fired a broadside at Mr Corbyn as they quit, condemning his stance on Brexit and response to allegations of anti-Semitism in the party.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson warned his party to change or face further damaging resignations following the biggest schism since the formation of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.

Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” by the announcement, while shadow chancellor John McDonnell challenged the seven to resign from Parliament and fight by-elections under their new independent banner.

The seven MPs issued an appeal to politicians from both Labour and other parties to “leave the old tribal politics behind” and join their new grouping in the Commons as crunch votes on Brexit loom later this month.

Chris Altree, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Barrow, was firm in his support for the Labour leadership.

He said: “The Labour Party has represented the interests of ordinary people for over 100 years and this small rump of disaffected opportunists won’t affect that one iota.

“Justice, fairness, standing up for people, opportunity for all - that’s what Labour is about.

“That’s what I’m in the party for and that’s what our constituency needs.

“Labour policies at the last GE saw us win our biggest vote share since 1945.”

At the launch in London’s County Hall, Mr Umunna issued an appeal to voters: “For far too long, political parties in Westminster - parties of which we have been a part - have been failing you.

“The bottom line is this - politics is broken, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s change it.”

In a call on other MPs to quit their parties, Mr Umunna said: “We’ve taken the first step in leaving the old tribal politics behind and we invite others who share our political values to do so too.”

Responding to the resignations, Mr Corbyn said: “I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work for the Labour policies that inspired millions and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.” Unite union boss Len McCluskey hit out at the “splitters” who had “no stomach for a fight for Labour’s core values”.