Jamie Driscoll has dramatically quit the Labour Party.

In a letter to Sir Keir Starmer today (Monday), the North of Tyne mayor revealed that he was leaving the party and would serve as an independent for the remainder of his term.

It comes after the controversy that saw him blocked from standing to be Labour’s candidate in historic North East mayoral election in May next year, which will see his current role come to an end.

Mr Driscoll’s announcement came just moments after Kim McGuinness was announced as the party’s candidate for the larger mayoral job, which will cover all of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.

He now plans to stand as an independent in next year’s election, if he can raise £25,000 by the end of August.

The left-wing figurehead wrote to Sir Keir: “Given you have barred me from running as North East mayor, despite being incumbent mayor, I have no other choice.

"In 2020 you told me to my face that you would “inspire people to come together… disciplining people to be united is going nowhere.” You’ve broken that promise.”

Mr Driscoll said it was with a “heavy heart and deep disappointment” that he was leaving the party, of which he has been a member since 1985.

He attacked Sir Keir for having “U-turned on so many promises”, including a pledge to end university tuition fees and spend £28bn a year on tackling climate change, and accused the party leader of being “not interested in hope and change”.

In an email to supporters, Mr Driscoll said an election campaign would cost around £150,000 – and promised he would stand if an initial £25,000 could be raised by the end of August.

He wrote: “You’d think the Labour Leadership would shout about my integrity and success. But when push comes to shove, they only want candidates who’ll do what they’re told by Party HQ. I have hundreds telling me they want an experienced, independent North East voice. 

“Independents have won mayoral elections many times. Most famously, after Labour stitched up Ken Livingstone to stop him running for London Mayor in 2000. He won by a landslide, 667,877 to Labour’s 223,884.”

Labour had blamed the decision of its National Executive Committee to exclude Mr Driscoll from the candidate selection contest on an appearance he made on stage at Newcastle’s Live Theatre with film director Ken Loach, who was expelled from the party in 2021.

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The move was branded a “monumental own goal” for the party by a number of trade unions, while the likes of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham had also urged Labour to at least let Mr Driscoll appeal the decision.

On Monday lunchtime, the party confirmed that Ms McGuinness had defeated ex-MEP Paul Brannen in the selection contest.

The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner polled 76 per cent of the vote in a ballot of local party members.