Change UK's East of England candidate to make a stand for staying in Europe
Former Labour Party member Bhavna Joshi will stand for Change UK in the East of England in next week’s European elections.
Ms Joshi, who was a Labour member from 1997 to 2015, says she resigned from the party after becoming uncomfortable with its move to the left.
Originally from Huddersfield, Ms Joshi lives in Hertfordshire and has been politically active at all levels.
She says she is passionate about bringing about change and describes herself as a proud remainer.
Ms Joshi had signed up for updates from Change UK, whose acting leader is South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, before applying to stand as a candidate for them.
From about 3,700 applications, 70 candidates were picked.
“I had stood previously in the 2014 European elections, and I could already see by that time that the party, under the leadership of Ed Miliband, had started to move towards the left, but not the left that I was comfortable with,” she said.
Ms Joshi, who has been a councillor, Parliamentary candidate and MEP candidate, left in November 2015 two months after Jeremy Corbyn became leader. She claimed at that time the party had become “toxic”.
Seven MEPs will be elected to represent the east of England at the European elections on May 23.
Change UK will field seven candidates with Emma Taylor, Neil Carmichael, Michelle de Vries, Amanda Gummer, Thomas Graham and Roger Casale standing alongside Ms Joshi.
The UK had been due to leave the EU on March 29, but the deadline was pushed back to October 31 after Parliament was unable to agree a way forward.
The government is continuing to talk to the Labour Party about progress in the Brexit process.
Ms Joshi, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 15 years, said: “For the past four years I’ve been in a political wilderness.”
Since the 2016 referendum, Ms Joshi says she has seen the country unravel.
“I was pleased when the independent group broke away from their relevant parties, with the Tories swinging to the right and the Labour Party to the left.
“I signed up to get their briefings and when the opportunity came up to apply to stand, I decided to take the plunge again and come back into politics,” she said.
Change UK – formerly known as the Independent Group – are a pro-remain party which backs another referendum on Brexit.
“I think we can have an influence,” said Ms Joshi. “It’s got people talking both on the right and on the left. I know people on both sides who think that politics is totally broken in this country.
“We have to realise that we are a new party but in the last few weeks, our momentum has continued to grow.
“There are a lot of people out there who do want a second vote."
More by this authorGemma Gardner