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The Independent Group for Change: where are they now?

Five MPs currently represent the political group.

An early shot of the group (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
An early shot of the group (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Tom Horton, PA

In February, a breakaway group of MPs resigned from their parties, promising to free themselves from the “old politics of the 20th century” and challenge the country’s political orthodoxy. Others later joined them in defecting.

Here is what has happened to the MPs who became known as The Independent Group for Change.

– Heidi Allen

Ms Allen left the Conservatives as one of what she branded the “three amigos” group of defectors from the party.

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Heidi Allen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Alongside Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston she dealt a blow to then prime minister Theresa May by reducing her majority and criticising her “disastrous” handling of Brexit.

She served a stint as leader of the new party, saying that fixing Brexit was “just the start” of what the group wanted to achieve, setting out a platform based on tackling issues around prosperity, medicine, the environment and security.

In May the former party leader had been due to appear on BBC comedy panel show Have I Got News For You in the run-up to the European Union elections, but the programme was pulled shortly before it was due to air over fears that it breached the broadcaster’s editorial guidelines.

Ms Allen joined a mass exodus from the group following the European elections and now sits as an independent MP.

– Mike Gapes

The Ilford South MP and former Labour Party politician was part of the initial wave of defectors who joined the new party.

At the time he said Labour was “complicit” in delivering Brexit and had become a “racist, anti-Semitic party”.

– Chuka Umunna

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Chuka Umunna (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Streatham MP served as the spokesman for the party of breakaway politicians after quitting Labour over its handling of Brexit.

Following disappointing European election results, where the party failed to make major gains but the Liberal Democrats came second after the Brexit Party, Mr Umunna decided to sit as an independent.

He later joined the Liberal Democrats, saying he had been “wrong” to think the UK needed a new political party.

– Ann Coffey

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Ann Coffey (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Stockport MP and former Labour politician was among the first to defect to the new party.

She remains one of its five MPs.

– Chris Leslie

The former shadow chancellor was also part of the first wave of defectors and remains part of The Independent Group for Change.

– Angela Smith

Ms Smith quit the Labour Party to join the breakaway group of MPs citing – among other issues – Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.

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Angela Smith (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Shortly after her defection she was forced to apologise for appearing to describe black people as having a “funny” tint or tinge in a TV interview.

She later decided to sit as an independent MP.

– Gavin Shuker

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Gavin Shuker (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Shuker, who represents Luton South and used to be part of the Labour and Co-operative party, joined the first wave of breakaway politicians over concerns about how Brexit would impact on his constituency.

He later opted to quit the new party and sit as an independent.

– Joan Ryan

The former Labour MP, who represents Enfield North, joined the breakaway group a day after it was formed and remains a member.

– Luciana Berger

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Luciana Berger (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Liverpool Wavertree MP left the Labour Party after saying she had come to the “sickening” conclusion that it had become “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

She was among the first group of politicians to join the breakaway group, but after the European elections she announced she would sit as an independent.

– Anna Soubry

The Broxtowe MP became the leader of the group in June following a number of high-profile walkouts, saying she was “deeply disappointed” that her colleagues had chosen to abandon the project.

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Anna Soubry (Rod Minchin/PA)

Ms Soubry said when she took over that challenging the established political parties was “never going to be easy” and her former colleagues who had jumped ship had done so at a “crucial time in British politics”.

The former Conservative originally left the Tories to fight Brexit, saying the vote to leave the EU had “redefined” the party.

– Sarah Wollaston

On Wednesday, Totnes MP and former Conservative Dr Wollaston became the latest politician to abandon the group when she joined the Liberal Democrats, saying she believed it was the best way for her to fight to remain in the EU.

PA

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