The Independent Group to become Change UK to fight European Elections

Written by Alex Welsford |

CUK spokesperson, Chuka Umunna | Image courtesy of Flickr

The Independent Group, a new group of MPs consisting of former members of both the Labour and Conservative parties, has applied to become a political party called ‘Change UK’.

The move comes alongside the group’s decision to field candidates for the EU elections in May, amid speculation that the Article 50 withdrawal period will be extended beyond the 12th April.

Change UK’s (CUK) interim leader is former Conservative MP, Heidi Allen, who voted for Article 50 to be prematurely triggered before negotiations had begun, but who has since come out in favour of a second referendum.

“Today marks a huge step forward on The Independent Group’s journey to becoming a fully-fledged political party,” said Allen, after news of CUK’s application to the Electoral Commission was announced.

“Today marks a huge step forward on The Independent Group’s journey to becoming a fully-fledged political party…”

Heidi Allen MP, interim leader of Change UK

The group’s spokesperson, ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna, said in a statement that, “A new party will shake up the two-party system and provide people with an alternative that can change our country for the better”.

The Independent Group was tinged with controversy last month after ex-Labour MP Angela Smith, in a BBC Politics Live discussion on racism, appeared to utter a racial slur, but Umunna claims that the group has since had “tens of thousands” of people registering as supporters.

“There is clearly an appetite for an alternative to our broken politics,” Umunna said, citing “the disastrous Brexit process” which he claims is the responsibility of both Labour and the Conservatives.

The news came as MPs voted down Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement for the third time, this time by 58 votes – increasing the chances of the UK applying for a long extension to the withdrawal process beyond the new 12th April deadline.

“…A new party will shake up the two-party system…”

Chuka Umunna MP, CUK spokesperson

Party sources say that CUK will not be fielding candidates for the UK local elections on the 2nd of May, due to a tight timetable, but that they aim to fight the EU elections, “if [their] application for registration is accepted in time.”

CUK plans to elect a permanent leader at its first conference this September, where the party will stage its official launch and either decide or announce its policies for the first time, with no manifesto yet available.