Labour veteran Frank Field has said he will employ “the best legal minds” to dispute party rules which say he cannot return to the party after resigning the whip.
Mr Field, who has served as the MP for Birkenhead for almost 40 years, was told by party chief whip Nick Brown that his decision to resign automatically meant he was no longer a member.
Labour sources confirmed that by resigning the whip Mr Field had “automatically opted to resign from the Labour Party”.
Mr Field said that he would be making a legal challenge against the move.
He said: “It was a very friendly meeting, he’s a good colleague, but the sad bit of news in it was that he thought the Labour Party rule book was clear, that if I resign the whip I couldn’t be a Labour Party member. I told him I was sorry to hear that obviously, that I would actually get the best legal minds I could on the job and that I would dispute that.”
The one-time minister for welfare reform, who was charged by then-prime minister Tony Blair to reform the welfare state by “thinking the unthinkable”, sensationally resigned saying that the party was now governed by “a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation”.
He said: “It’s been a pretty big and tiring step that I’ve taken, I don’t regret it, I think it is important. I’m not a gesture politician, I do this, I hope with others, to effect change and I think that process has actually started on this. The people of Birkenhead are sovereign in this matter, I would hope that providence willing, to be the Labour candidate next time.”