THIS was no fond, misty-eyed farewell by seven MPs to the party that had been their home for years. One said he was “sickened that the Labour Party is now a racist, anti-Semitic party.” They denounced the quality of leadership provided – or not provided – by Jeremy Corbyn, and said his economic policies were incoherent. One said it would be “irresponsible” to allow Mr Corbyn to occupy Number 10. For some of them, his position on Brexit was the final straw.

So, is this a vanity project or, possibly, a meaningful moment in British politics? Breakaway parties are not always long-term successes but this one feels important, even if only for symbolic reasons. Theresa May’s fumbling towards a Brexit deal has impressed very, very few people. Mr Corbyn has Momentum on his side but his more contentious policies and attitudes, and his perceived slowness in dealing with serious allegations of bullying and anti-Semitism, have led to this breach.

It will be interesting to see whether the Independent Group is joined by other Labour MPs or by Conservative malcontents. Will it prompt an urgent rethink among Mr Corbyn’s senior allies and the major Labour-supporting unions as to how further defections can be avoided? Might it be the start of the long-rumoured centrist party, especially if no Brexit deal can be agreed upon? If that happens, will we see this new party merging with, or even engineering a reverse takeover of, the Liberal Democrats?

The new grouping needs to seize the moment if it is not to be seen as a seven-day wonder; a clear manifesto and the election of a leader would help. But its assertion that British politics is broken is one that warrants serious thought.

As Shirley Williams, who knows a thing or two about splitting from Labour, said yesterday, the “extreme tribalism” of the last two years has left the public in despair. Quite where the solution lies is anyone’s guess but this breakaway suggests there is, at least, an appetite for a better way.