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Change UK forced to choose a third new name

The group, originally known as The Independent Group, was challenged over the similarity of its new moniker to the Change.org petition site.

Anna Soubry speaks during a Change UK rally (PA/ Kirsty O’Connor)
Anna Soubry speaks during a Change UK rally (PA/ Kirsty O’Connor)

The new political group Change UK will change its name for a third time following a dispute.

The group, originally known as The Independent Group, was challenged over the similarity of its new moniker to the Change.org petition site.

The group has now said it will apply for registration with the Electoral Commission as The Independent Group for Change.

Today we are applying to register ourselves as The Independent Group for Change and will await the Electoral Commission's decision Change UK

A statement set out how lawyers from Change.org disputed the group’s right to register as “Change UK” with the Electoral Commission ahead of the European elections.

They explained how “under threat of legal action” by Change.org, which could have seen “each MP being sued personally” and with no time left to register a new party name, Change UK “felt we had no option but to sign a legal agreement” to ditch the name following the election.

They added: “We are now legally obliged to make a formal application to the Electoral Commission, to amend our name by 15th June, so today we are applying to register ourselves as ‘The Independent Group for Change’ and will await the Electoral Commission’s decision.

bpanews_47553af7-febd-4ac6-a973-ac4a05beaa48_embedded243316056
File photo dated 20/02/19 of Change UK MPs(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan. Anna Soubry has become leader of Change UK after six MPs quit the party (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We remain determined as a party to tackle the big issues facing the country.

“Preventing a disastrous no deal Brexit and fixing Britain’s broken politics remain our absolute focus as we begin to build our new policy platform.”

The reaction  from journalists was incredulous, with Buzzfeed’s Alex Wickham tweeting “There are no words”.

The Independent Group was launched on February 18 this year by seven MPs who had quit Labour and four more, including three Tories, who quickly became known as the Tiggers.

In April, the group’s registration with the Electoral Commission as a political party named Change UK was accepted, although its logo was rejected, in part for the inclusion of a hashtag.

The European results proved disappointing for the anti-Brexit group and six of its 11 MPs left the party at the start of this month, including interim leader Heidi Allen and group spokesman Chuka Umunna.

PA

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