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Soubry takes over as Change UK leader as party splits

Six MPs quit the newly formed party.

New Change UK leader Anna Soubry (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
New Change UK leader Anna Soubry (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Anna Soubry has become leader of Change UK after six MPs quit the party.

The newly formed party split as high-profile figures like Chuka Umunna and ex-leader Heidi Allen walked out.

Along with former Tory minister Ms Soubry, the remaining Change UK MPs are Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.

The split comes after the party, originally called the Independent Group, performed poorly in the European Parliament elections.

The six MPs who quit Change UK will now sit as independents.

Ms Soubry, who quit the Tories in protest at its Brexit stance, said: “I’m deeply disappointed that at such a crucial time in British politics our former colleagues have made this decision.

“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.

“Going forward, the Change UK MPs are as determined to fix Britain’s broken politics as we were when we left our former parties.

“Challenging the established broken political parties was never going to be easy.

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(PA Graphics)

“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.”

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Heidi Allen has left Change UK (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A joint statement from the six MPs leaving Change UK, tweeted by Ms Allen and Sarah Wollaston, said that the party had boosted the European Parliament campaign and turnout.

The MPs, who also include Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, and Angela Smith said they would be “supporting each other as an independent grouping”.

The MPs added: “We believe that our priority right now must be to provide collegiate leadership to bring people together in the national interest.

“We know the landscape will continue to shift within the political environment and have concluded that by returning to sit as independents, we will be best placed to work cross-party and respond flexibly.

“We wish our colleagues well as they continue to build Change UK.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said he would like the MPs to join his party but could also work with them in other ways.

He told the BBC: “Most of the group are people who share the same values as we do.

”My door is open to talk with them, particularly the independent group, about their future.

“I don’t want to gloat over their failure. It was a failure. But we have got to move on and I want to be positive about it.”

PA

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