Heidi Allen appointed interim leader of Independent Group as it registers to become Change UK to stand in European elections
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen has been appointed the interim leader of the Independent Group, after it applied to register as a political party called Change UK in order to stand in European elections.
The former Conservative MP said the group was “determined to unleash” a “fairer and better future for our country”.
A permanent leader for the group, formed of 11 former Conservative and Labour MPs alarmed by the Brexit process, will be appointed at an inaugural conference in September, when the main launch of the new party will take place.
But they have registered now in order to put forward candidates should elections to the European Parliament be held in the UK, in the event of a long extension to the Brexit process.
If they are, it is likely they would be held on Thursday May 23.
Any group wishing to put forward candidates must be registered as a political party with the European Commission. The close of nominations for Euro MPs is April 24, meaning there is “no guarantee” the party’s registration - as Change UK – The Independent Group - will be completed in time.
The group said all of its MPs will continue to perform their current roles
Ms Allen, subject to events in Westminster, is due to speak at a rally in Cambridge city centre this evening organised by the anti-Brexit group Cambridge Stays.
She said: “Today marks a huge step forward on The Independent Group's journey to becoming a fully-fledged political party, so I am delighted to have been chosen as our interim leader.
“If we are to deliver on our ambition to change politics for the better, it is vital that we attract support from people from every walk of life, every political background and none.
“Coming into the House of Commons from running my manufacturing business in 2015, I have seen with my own eyes how improved our political system would be if it harnessed the diverse skills and experience of our country.
“We in Change UK, as we hope to be known, don't just dream about a fairer and better future for our country, we are determined to unleash it through hard work, passion and shared endeavour.”
Ms Allen will also hold a meeting with up to 200 constituents on Saturday March 30 at Cambourne Village College to discuss her move to the Independent Group. Registration to attend can be completed online at https://heidiallen.co.uk/news/heidi-allen-mp-to-hold-constituency-meeting-30th-march.html. It follows her first public meeting on the subject at Long Road Sixth Form College on March 16.
Chuka Umunna MP, the Independent Group spokesperson, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the public support for our group since we were established last month, with tens of thousands or people all over the country signing up as supporters.
“There is clearly an appetite for an alternative to our broken politics which needs fundamental change, as shown by the disastrous Brexit process which has occurred under the watch of the two main parties.
“A new party will shake up the two-party system and provide people with an alternative that can change our country for the better. This is what Change UK will be aiming to do at any European elections if our application for registration is accepted in time.
“The Independent Group is a diverse group of MPs which reflects modern Britain, drawn from different generations and backgrounds including a former GP, teacher, lecturer, social worker, solicitor and TV presenter. We intend to draw on all the voices of our group in any European election campaign. We will seek to put forward a substantial number of MEP candidates with backgrounds from outside of politics.”