Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

British pro-Remain party Change UK loses over half of its MPs

Fledgling party will now be led by Anna Soubry after the departure of leader Heidi Allen

Change UK MP Anna Soubry speaks during a European Parliament election campaign rally at the Manchester Technology Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on May 21, 2019. Britain's breakaway anti-Brexit party, Change UK, imploded on Tuesday just months after its formation with the resignations of six of its 11 MPs. AFP
Change UK MP Anna Soubry speaks during a European Parliament election campaign rally at the Manchester Technology Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on May 21, 2019. Britain's breakaway anti-Brexit party, Change UK, imploded on Tuesday just months after its formation with the resignations of six of its 11 MPs. AFP

Pro-Remain party Change UK has lost six of its 11 MPs, including its leader, in a wave of resignations after its poor performance in the European elections.

Heidi Allen, the former leader of the party, stepped down along with former Labour MP Chuka Umunna to become independent politicians. Both MPs have supported close co-operation with the Liberal Democrats, whose popularity soared in the European elections last month.

Sarah Wollaston, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker also resigned from the party.

The new leader of Change UK will be Conservative MP Anna Soubry. Former Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan and Ann Coffey have also remained in the party.

After the slew of resignations, the party announced several commitments that it says are intended to break the deadlock in Westminster. Change UK insisted that parliament should have the opportunity to hold a vote on the revocation of Article 50 in the event Britain is still facing a no-deal Brexit in October. In the summer, the party will begin a national programme of public and expert consultation to build what it deems “a radical centre ground set of policies”.

It also called for a cross-party summit of the UK’s smaller political parties to discuss the democratic crisis facing the country, and the need to break the cartel of the bigger established parties.

Ms Soubry said she was “deeply disappointed” that the six MPs stepped down.

“Now is not the time to walk away, but instead to roll up our sleeves and stand up for the sensible mainstream centre ground which is unrepresented in British politics today,” she said.

“Challenging the established broken political parties was never going to be easy. We registered as a political party to stand in the European elections but it was never our sole purpose. It is vital we continue leading the fight against a damaging Brexit, pressing for a People’s Vote and being prepared to revoke Article 50 in the face of a no-deal Brexit.”

“But Brexit is not the cause of our broken politics, it is a symptom of it. So we now look forward to providing a real choice for the public in future elections and building our policies through the evidence-led, deliberative policy making project we were planning before the European elections,” she added.

Change UK, formerly known as The Independent Group, caused a stir when several MPs defected from the Conservative and Labour parties to form a new party that was opposed to Brexit in February. However, in the European elections, it failed to win a seat and obtained just 3.4 per cent of the vote.

Updated: June 11, 2019 04:08 AM

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