All five Respect councillors at Bradford Council have resigned from their party en-masse in protest at the suspension of two of their members.

The councillors say they will not rejoin the party until the two suspended councillors, Ishtiaq Ahmed and Mohammad Shabbir, are “publicly exonerated and their suspensions revoked”.

In the meantime, they will be continuing in their role as ward councillors, but as a group of independent politicians.

The internal row was sparked when Bradford West MP George Galloway revealed that he was considering standing in the election for Mayor of London in 2016.

Councillors Ahmed (Manningham) and Shabbir (Heaton) were suspended following online remarks they made to a national newspaper criticising the move.

They deny claims they were “conniving” to destabilise the party.

In a joint statement released today, all five Respect councillors at Bradford Council said: “We the Bradford Respect group of councillors collectively demand the two councillors be publicly exonerated and their suspensions revoked and the baseless and false allegations about them are retracted.”

The other three councillors are group leader Alyas Karmani (Little Horton), deputy group leader Ruqayyah Collector (City) and Faisal Khan (Bradford Moor).