THE fledgling party started by breakaway Labour MPs has suffered a financial blow, after it emerged it will not be eligible for public money given to other opposition parties.

The Independent Group, which hopes to evolve into a new party within months, had been expected to qualify for hundreds of thousands of pounds in ‘short money’.

However the House of Commons has confirmed that short money is not available “to a new political party, if it was established in the middle of parliament”.

It means the new party would need to fight and win seats at a general election to qualify.

It also means that the group will have to rely on public donations to survive in the meantime.

READ MORE: Second wave of Labour MPs set to quit in leadership row

Seven Labour MPs resigned from Labour on Monday in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, particularly his failure to tackle anti-Semitism and support for Brexit.

They included Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who said the party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic” during its shift to the left under Mr Corbyn.

Chuka Umunna, another quitter, said he personally wanted the Group to become a party “as quickly as possible and certainly by the end of the year” to give voters a new option.

At least two Tory MPs are also understood to be considering joining the group, with Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Nick Boles among the names being mentioned.

Short money is given to opposition parties with MPs returned at the previous election to cover staff, travel and other costs associated with carrying out their parliamentary business.

Labour is due to receive £7.9m in short money in 2018/19, the SNP more than £800,000, and the Liberal Democrats £645,000.

Early commentaries about the Independent Group assumed it would also qualify.

READ MORE: Cracks appear in Scottish Labour as MPs quit

But the 2017-19 report of the Members Estimate Committee on the rules relating to short money says this is not be the case.

Published last July, it says eligibility is restricted to opposition parties with at least two MPs “elected at the previous General Election after contesting it as candidates for the party”, or single MPs whose parties received more than 150,000 votes in total at the election.

This second provision allows the sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas, to get short money.

But the rules make clear that short money is not available to parties which only reach the two MP threshold as a result of a by-election or a defection from another party.

“It would also prevent payment of Short money to a new political party, if it was established in the middle of a Parliament,” it states, a rule that currently covers the Independent Group.

READ MORE: Who are The Independence Group? Former Labour MPs form breakaway party

A House of Commons spokesman confirmed that the Independent Group would not qualify for short money as it is not emerged from a general election with MPs.

“It would not apply to any party that is formed mid-way through the parliament,” he said.

The Independent Group has been asked for comment.